Justice Chioma Nwosu-Iheme of the Court of Appeal has demanded punishment for the judge of the Jigawa State High Court, Justice Ubale of Birnin Kudu, and his counterpart in the Imo State judiciary, Justice B. C. Iheka, for what she described as their unprofessional conduct by dabbling into the Anambra State gubernatorial election controversy and gave consequential judgments on it.
The Court of Appeal justice also wants lawyers who took the cases to the state high courts in Jigawa and Imo states disciplined for professional misbehavior.
Justice Nwosu-Iheme made the demand while ruling today on a motion by Chike Onyemenam (SAN), counsel to Jude Okeke, who claims to be the national chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), to stop the execution of the order made earlier on July 18 by Justice Charles C. Okaa of the Anambra State High Court in Awka directing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to recognize the former Central Bank of Nigeria governor, Professor Charles Soludo, as the APGA candidate in the November 6 gubernatorial election in the state, in line with the outcome of the June 23 APGA Congress and primary election which Soludo won by almost 94% and monitored by INEC.
INEC had on July 16 published The Honorable Chukwuma Umeoji of the House of Representatives as the APGA candidate following an order by the Jigawa State High Court on June 28, but was not made known until the eve of the INEC’s unveiling of names of various candidates.
The consequential order was based on the argument that Okeke was the APGA acting national chairman who purportedly took over from one Edozie Njoku.
INEC, which regulates Nigerian political parties, has no record of either Njoku or Okeke as having ever been the APGA national chairman, as it has in the last few years recognized only Chief Victor Oye as the party’s chairman.
Still, Justice Iheka, presiding over the Imo State High Court in Owerri, on July 30 gave a judgment affirming Okeke as the APGA chairman and Umeoji the party’s gubernatorial candidate.
The Court of Appeal justice accused Anambra politicians of going round the country shopping for judgments to enable them to contest in the November governorship election rather than appear before the courts which have the territorial jurisdiction to entertain the election.
She regretted that some judges and lawyers indulge such politicians and as a result bring the legal profession into public contempt.
Justice Nwosu-Iheme, therefore, called for strong punishments to be meted out to the state high court judges in Jigawa and Imo states who gave judgments on the Anambra APGA controversy and the lawyers who brought the cases before them.
C. Don Adinuba
Commissioner for Information & Public Enlightenment.