By Martins Odeh
The National Judicial Council (NJC) has recommended the compulsory retirement of the Chief Judge of Abia, Justice Theresa Uzokwe, and Justice Obisike Orji of the State High Court to Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu.
According to a statement on Thursday in Abuja by the council’s Director of Information, Mr Soji Oye, the decision was taken at the council’s 85thmeeting chaired by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen on March 14.
The NJC said Uzokwe’s recommendation for compulsory retirement followed the findings of two investigative committees set up by the Council.
The council said the committees had investigated petitions brought against her by the Attorney-General of Abia State, Mr Umeh Kalu, (SAN).
The NJC said, Kalu, who is also the State’s Commissioner for Justice had alleged that Uzokwe was working with a parallel Judicial Service Commission instead of the one constituted by the state government.
The council said Uzokwe was also found to have misapplied himself in Suit No. HU/131/2005.
According to the NJC, Uzokwe has erroneously delivered judgement in the sum of N825, 000 in favour of a litigant, but went ahead to signed a garnishee order of N109, 612, 500.
The council said Oji also attracted the wrath of the council by allowing himself to be sworn-in as acting Chief Judge of the state after he was warned not to contemplate accepting the offer.
The NJC viewed Oji’s action as colluding in, and aiding an unconstitutional process.
In a related development, Oye said the council had issued stern warnings to Justices S. E. Aladetoyinboof the FCT high court and Olusola Williams of the Lagos State High Courts for judicial misconduct.
“The NJC reprimanded, seriously warned and placed on the Watch List Hon Justice S. E. Aladetoyinbo of the FCT High Court for impropriety in a case between U.L.O. Consultants Ltd v BIL Construction Nigeria Ltd.
“This was sequel to a petition by one Uche Luke Okpuno.
“Council would have sanctioned the Judge more severely but had to take into account the fact that aspects of the case could be appealed’’, Oye said.
According to him, the council also seriously warns Justice Olusola Williams of the Lagos State High Court for grave errors of judgment in her level of involvement in a family business.
“Council found that the Judge, as a judicial officer, should have been more circumspect and conscious of her office. Council’s sanction was as a result of a petition by Chief Ladi Rotimi-Williams, (SAN)’’, he said.
Oye said council also considered various petitions written against 31 Judicial Officers and resolved to empanel three Investigative Committees against one Justice of Supreme Court and two State Chief Judges.
He further said petitions against various Justices were dismissed either for lack of merit, lack of evidence of misconduct, being subjudice or that the subject of such petitions were matters for appeal.
He listed the dismissed petitions to include the ones against Justices Abdu Aboki, Theresa Abadua and Ahmed Belgore all of the Court of Appeal.
Others according to him, includes those against Justices John Tsoho, Ayo Emmanuel, SabiuYahusa, Zainab Abubakar, B. O. Quadri of the Federal High Court.
Oye said another set of the dismissed petitions were those brought against Justices A. N. Ubaka and B. B. Kanyip of National Industrial Court and Justices Bello Kawu, S. C. Orji, A. N. Talba of the FCT High Court.
He said petitions were also dismissed against Justice K. C. Nwankpa of High Court Abia State, Justice D. A. Onyefulu of High Court Anambra State and Justice W. I. A. Effiong of High Court Akwa-Ibom State.
According to him, petitions against Justice A. M. Ikpambese, High Court Benue State, Justice G. E.Gbemre, High Court Delta State, Justice A. O. Onovo, High Court Enugu State were also dismissed.
He further said petitions against Justice Idi Apollos, High Court Gombe State, Justice G. O. Ogunsanya, High Court Ogun State, Justice A. B. Abdulkarim, High Court Osun State suffered similar fate.
The Spokesman also said petitions against Justice K. A. Ojiako, High Court Imo State, Justices A. M. Lawal, L. A. Okunnu and L. B. Lawal Akapo, High Court Lagos State were equally dismissed.
Oye said the council decided to advise Justice J. E. Ikede of Delta State High Court and Justice Yusuf Halilu of FCT High Court to be more careful in the course of their judicial duties.
Also, Oye said the council decided to refer a petition brought by Mr Adesina Okuneye against Justice Mwada Balami of the FCT High Court to the Police to investigate.
According to him, the petitioner has raised allegation of N5 million bribe to the Judge meant for granting of a bail to an accused person.
“Council decided that the petition should be put in abeyance until the outcome of the investigation by the Police’’, Oye said.
Oye, however, said the council had recommended 60 Judicial Officers to governors of 24 for appointment as High Court Judges, Sharia Court Kadis and Customary Court of Appeal Judges.