The National Judicial Council (NJC) has suspended promotions of judges indicted over the issuance of conflicting orders by courts of coordinate jurisdiction.
The NJC, headed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Tanko Muhammad, had on September 6 summoned judges in states where conflicting judgments were issued in political disputes this year.
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A statement by the Director of Information of the NJC, Soji Oye Esq., said the Council at its meeting on December 14 and 15, resolved to ban three judges who granted conflicting ex parte orders in matters with same parties and subject matter from promotion on the bench for a period ranging from two to five years.
The Council, which was presided by the deputy chairman, Justice Mary Odili, approved the recommendations of the investigation committee set up in September that Justice Okogbule Gbasam of the Rivers State High Court be barred from elevation to the higher bench for two years.
The Council said the judge failed to “exercise due diligence in granting the ex parte order in suit no: PHC/2183/CS/2021 between Ibeabuchi Ernest Alex & 4 others and Prince Uche Secondus & Another as there was no real urgency, in the circumstances of the matter, that would have required an exparte order.”
The Council also barred Justice Nusirat I. Umar of the High Court of Kebbi State from elevation to the higher bench for two years, whenever due, for granting ex parte order in suit no: KB/HC/M.71/2021 between Yahaya Usman & 2 others and Prince Uche Secondus & another.
Also, the Council barred Justice Edem Ita Kooffreh of the Cross River State High Court from promotion to the higher bench for five years; “for allowing himself to be used as a tool for ‘forum shopping’ and abuse of court process in suit no: HC/240/2021 between Mr Enang Kanum Wani and Uche Secondus as it was evident that, in granting the ex parte order, he was seized of earlier orders of the high courts of Rivers and Kebbi states, being courts of coordinate jurisdiction with his.”
The affected judges were issued with warning letters to be circumspect for the future, while it placed Justice Kooffreh on its watch-list for a period of two years.
63 judges appointed
The Council also announced the appointment of 63 judges for 16 states, nine of which are heads of courts, and approved the promotion of 84 members of staff ranging from salary Grade levels 7 to 17 as submitted by its Appointment, Promotion and Disciplinary Committee.
“Council also received notification of retirements from Hon. Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi of the Court of Appeal, Hon. Justice Bello Duwale of the High Court of Sokoto State, Hon. Justices S. A. Omonua and O. S. Uwuigbe of the Edo State High Court, Hon Justices M. A. Pindiga and Beatrice L. Iliya of the High Court of Gombe State, Hon. Kadi Muhammad O. Abdulkadir, Grand Kadi, Sharia Court of Appeal, Kwara State and Hon. Justice S. M. C. Ururuka-Ogeshi, President, Customary Court of Appeal, Abia State,” the statement reads
The Council said it received notification of deaths of Justice A. K. Fowe of Ekiti High Court, Justice Chinonyerem Onii of Imo High Court, and Dr Kadi Shehu Ibrahim Ahmad, Grand Kadi, Kaduna State.