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NJC bars three judges from promotion over exparte orders, appoints 63

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CJN warns against disobedience of court orders

The National Judicial Council (NJC) has barred three judges from promotion for granting conflicting exparte court orders.

The council also warned the affected judges to be circumspect in granting such orders in the future.

The NJC Director of Information, Soji Oye, who disclosed this in a statement on Thursday in Abuja, said the decision was taken during the Council’s two-day meeting in Abuja.

He added that the affected judges were barred from promotion for a period ranging between two and five years.

At the meeting chaired by the NJC Deputy Chairman, Justice Mary Peter-Odili, the members agreed with the recommendations of the investigation committee set up by the Council in September

The statement read: “The three judges of courts of concurrent jurisdiction who granted conflicting Exparte Orders in matters with same parties and subject matter were barred from promotion to higher Bench for a period ranging from two to five years whenever they are due.

“Even though there were no written petitions, allegations of corruption or impropriety against the judges, the 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.

“Justice Okogbule Gbasam of the High Court of Rivers State was barred from elevation to the higher Bench for two years or 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.

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“Justice Gbasam was also issued with a warning letter to be circumspect in granting such Exparte Orders in the future.

“The Council also resolved that Justice Nusirat Umar of the High Court of Kebbi should be barred from elevation to higher Bench for two years or 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 was also issued with a warning letter to be circumspect in granting such Exparte Orders in the future.

“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 aware of the earlier Orders of the High Courts of Rivers and Kebbi States, being courts of coordinate jurisdiction with his.

“He also received a warning letter to be circumspect in granting such Exparte Orders in the future and was placed on NJC’s Watch-List for a period of two years.

“The Council also approved the appointment of 63 judges for 16 states, nine of which are Heads of Court.

“The Council also received notification of retirements from Justices Mudashiru Oniyangi of the Court of Appeal, Bello Duwale of the High Court of Sokoto State, S. A. Omonua and O. S. Uwuigbe of the Edo State High Court, M. A. Pindiga and Beatrice L. Iliya of the High Court of Gombe State.

“Others are Justices Kadi Muhammad O. Abdulkadir, Grand Kadi, Sharia Court of Appeal, Kwara State and S. M. C. Ururuka-Ogeshi, President, Customary Court of Appeal, Abia State.

“It also received notification of deaths of Justices A. K. Fowe, High Court, Ekiti State, Chinonyerem Onii, High Court, Imo State, and Kadi Shehu Ibrahim Ahmad, Grand Kadi, Kaduna State.

“Finally, the council 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.”

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