20180316

NJC Sacks Suspended Abia Female Chief Judge

The National Judicial Council said on Thursday that it had recommended the earlier suspended Chief Judge of Abia State, Justice Theresa Uzokwe, and Justice Obisike Oji, who had a brief stint as the Acting Chief Judge of the state for compulsory retirement.

The NJC also said in a statement by its Director, Information, Mr. Soji Oye, that it had set up committees to probe an unnamed Justice of the Supreme Court and Chief Judges of two states.

The allegations against Justice of the apex court and the two Chief Judges were also not disclosed.

According to Oye, the NJC, under the chairmanship of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mr. Walter Onnoghen, took the decisions at its 85th meeting which held on March 14, Wednesday.

The Abia State House of Assembly had on January 26, 2018 passed a resolution suspending Justice Uzokwe as the state’s Chief Judge.

It directed Governor Ikpeazu to appoint an acting Chief Judge pending the completion of investigation by its committee into alleged acts of Justice Uzokwe’s misconduct.

The governor had subsequently appointed Justice Orji as the acting Chief Judge of the state.

But the NJC on January 31, 2018, declared the suspension of Justice Uzokwe, by the House of Assembly of the state as unconstitutional, the step having been taken without any recommendation by the council.

The Punch reports that while directing Justice Uzokwe to step aside, the NJC had also suspended Justice Oji for submitting himself for unconstitutional swearing as the Acting CJ.

Oye said in his statement on Thursday that the NJC recommended for compulsory retirement earlier on Wednesday “following the findings of two investigative committees set up by the council”.

“The committees investigated petitions against her by Umeh Kalu (SAN), the Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice of Abia State, alleging illegal constitution and working with a parallel Judicial Service Commission instead of the one constituted by the state governor and confirmed by the House of Assembly.

“Justice Uzokwe was also found to have misconducted himself in suit number, HU/131/2005, wherein he delivered judgment in the sum of N825,000 only in favour of a litigant, but subsequently signed a garnishee order of N109,612,500, only.”

Concerning Justice Oji, the statement said he was sanction for allowing himself to be sworn in as acting Chief Judge.

The statement read in part, “Hon. Mr. Justice Obisike Oji was earlier queried by the council for allowing himself to be sworn in as acting Chief Judge, and thereby colluding in, and aiding an unconstitutional process."