Nigeria

NJC sets up special panel to probe three judges over exparte orders

National Judicial Council | NJC

The National Judicial Council (NJC) has constituted a Special Investigation Committee to handle the issue of three judges of courts of coordinate jurisdiction over their granting of exparte orders, resulting in conflicting orders of courts.

Consequently, the affected judges have been directed by the NJC to appear before the panel and show cause why disciplinary actions should not be taking against them.

A statement by the Director of Information, NJC, Mr Soji Oye, announcing the Special Investigation, after NJC’s 95th meeting in Abuja, did not reveal the names of the three judges that would appear before the panel.

Oye said besides those referred to the special panel, the NJC also looked into and took decisions on issues regarding some other judges.

“The National Judicial Council under the Chairmanship of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice I. T. Muhammad, at its 95th Meeting held on September 15 and 16, 2021, in line with the principles of fair hearing, has directed the three Judges of coordinate jurisdiction who granted Exparte Orders over the case with the same subject matter to appear before a special Investigation Committee constituted by the Council in order to show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken against them for such act,” he said.

He added that the Council resolved to set up a Medical Board in order to ascertain the health status of Justice Amina Yaroson of Kaduna State Customary Court of Appeal.

“Council also considered the Reports of its Investigation Committee and decided to issue a warning letter to Hon. Justice Sobere Biambo of High Court of Rivers State for descending into the Arena of conflict in a matrimonial Suit No: OHC/IMC/2018.

“Council at its Plenary considered the Reports of the two Preliminary Complaints Assessment Committees (PCAC) on the petitions written against 18 Judicial Officers and on the recommendation of the Committee, issued a letter of advice to Hon,” the statement read in part.

It noted that Justice Elias O. Abua of Cross River State High Court was warned to be wary of granting an Order staying the execution of a judgement that appeared executory in nature as the one he granted in Suit No. HC/MSC/67/2019.

Mr Oye said that the NJC, however, dismissed the petitions written against Justices I. E. Ekwu and Ayo-Emmanuel of the Federal High Court; Justices O. O. Ogunjobi, S. B. A. Candide-Johnson and S. A. Onigbanjo of High Court of Lagos State; Justices Chiwendu Nwogu, S. C. Amadi and A. U. Kingsley Chuku, amongst others for either lacking in merit, subjudice or statute-barred.

The statement also said that the NJC considered the Report of the Interview Committee and agreed to recommend 12 candidates as Heads of Court, 18 candidates as High Court Judges, six candidates as Kadis of Sharia Courts of Appeal and one candidate as Customary Court of Appeal Judge.

“The Notifications of retirement of 22 Judges of the Federal and State High Courts and Notifications of death of three Judges of States were also considered by the NJC Plenary,” the statement added.

The issue of conflicting court orders between July and August as it pertains to the forthcoming Anambra State Governorship Election and the leadership crisis in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) got to a worrisome and embarrassing height that the CJN had to summon six Heads of Courts to explain the rationale behind the development.

After his meeting with the six Heads of Courts, the CJN hinted at setting up a committee to investigate the issue.

Just a few days back, an Upper Area Court judge was referred to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Judicial Service Committee for a probe for summoning former Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Professor Chukwuma Soludo over alleged infractions of the Code of Conduct for public officers, an issue said to be outside his jurisdiction.

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