The National Judicial Council, NJC has barred three judges for their involvement in the issuance of conflicting court orders.
The affected judges are Justice Okogbule 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.
The NJC took the disciplinary measure against the judges for unprofessionally meddling in the matter concerning the removed national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus.
Soji Oye, NJC’s Director of Information, in a statement, said the commission’s decision is premised on an investigation led by Justice Mary Peter-Odili.
According to him, “The NJC rose from its two days meeting held on 14 and 15 December 2021, with a resolution to bar from promotion to higher Bench the three Judges of Courts of concurrent jurisdiction who granted conflicting Exparte Orders in matters with same parties and subject matter 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 an 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 cautious 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.”