Three high court judges have been restricted from getting a promotion for a period of two to five years for issuing conflicting ex-parte orders.
The National Judicial Council, NJC disclosed this in a statement signed by the Director of Information at the NJC, Mr. Soji Oye after a two-day meeting it held in Abuja between December 14 and 15.
According to the Council, although there was no written petition, allegations of corruption, or impropriety against the judges, the investigation committee set up discovered that they issued conflicting orders in cases involving the same parties and the subject matter.
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These judges, also currently put on NJC’s watchlist, are Justice Okogbue Gbasam of the High Court of Rivers State, Justice Nusirat I. Umar of the High Court of Kebbi State, and Justice Edem Ita Kooffreh of the High Court of Cross River State.
It was gathered that the ban stems from a recent feud between former National Chairman of the People Democratic Party, Prince Uche Secondus, and the party.
The statement, read: “The National Judicial Council rose from its two days meeting held on 14 and 15 December 2021, with a resolution to bar the three Judges of Courts of concurrent jurisdiction who granted conflicting Exparte Orders in matters with same parties and subject matter from promotion to higher Bench for a period ranging from two to five years whenever they are due.
“Even though there was no written petition, allegations of corruption or impropriety against the subject Judges, Council nevertheless, initiated investigation pursuant to its inherent disciplinary powers under the Constitution to unravel the circumstances that led to the spate of Exparte Orders granted by these Courts of coordinate jurisdiction over matters bearing same parties and subject matter.
“The meeting which was chaired by the Deputy Chairman of Council, Hon. Justice Mary Peter-Odili, CFR agreed with the recommendations of the Investigation Committee set up in September 2021”
“That Hon. Justice Okogbule Gbasam of the High Court of Rivers State be barred from elevation to higher Bench for two years whenever he is due, as he failed to exercise due diligence in granting the Exparte Order in Suit No: PHC/2183/CS/2021 between IBEALWUCHI EARNEST ALEX & 4 ORS AND PRINCE UCHE SECONDUS & ANOR, as there was no real urgency, in the circumstances of the matter, that would have required an Exparte Order”.
“His Lordship is also issued with a warning letter to be circumspect in granting such Exparte Orders in the future.
“Council also resolved that Hon. Justice Nusirat I. Umar of the High Court of Kebbi State be barred from elevation to higher Bench for two years whenever due, having found fundamental defects and non-compliance with the law in granting the Exparte Order in Suit No: KB/HC/M.71/2021 between YAHAYA USMAN & 2 ORS AND PRINCE UCHE SECONDUS & ANOR. He is also issued with a warning letter to be circumspect in granting such Exparte Orders in the future”.
“Hon. Justice Edem Ita Kooffreh of the High Court of Cross River State will not be promoted to 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 Exparte Order, he was seized of earlier Orders of the High Courts of Rivers and Kebbi States, being Courts of coordinate jurisdiction with his. He is also to receive a warning letter to be circumspect in granting such Exparte Orders in the future. The Council also placed him on its Watch-List for a period of two years”, the statement added.