‘Why Justice Abang was moved to Asaba’
There are speculations that Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja may have been transferred to the Asaba Division of the court to handle the trial of former Delta State governor, James Onanefe Ibori, when he returns to the country.
Ibori, who was convicted of corruption charges in the United Kingdom completed his prison term last month. He is being touted to face fresh trial in Asaba, the state capital this year.
Abang, who was among the 11 judges redeployed by the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Ibrahim Auta in a circular dated December 21, 2016, would resume duties on the 30th of this month.
While the exercise is routine, the jurist’s movement is raising curiosity as he had barely served one year in Abuja, having being earlier transferred from Lagos in January last year.
Other judges affected by the deployment included Justice Saliu Saidu who was moved from Lagos to Port Harcourt; Justice A.O. Faji, transferred from Asaba to Lagos; Justice R. M. Aikawa from Sokoto to Lagos and Justice B.O. Quadri, who was transferred from Port Harcourt to Abuja.
Others are Justice Mallong Hoommuk from Port Harcourt to Lafia; Justice K.K. Dagat, Lagos to Kano; Justice Saleh Idrissa from Kano division to Sokoto; Justice H.I.O. Oshomah from Lafia to Port Harcourt and Justice J.K. Omotosho from Kano to Port Harcourt.
Although Justice Auta stated in the circular that the transfer was necessitated by shortage of judges in some divisions of the court, some still believe there was more to it.
“In view of the fact that some divisions are currently short of judges following the recent developments in the court, it has become necessary to take urgent steps to fill the existing vacancies.
“Affected judges are expected to resume in their new divisions by January 30, 2017,” the memo read in part.Lagos-based Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Adekunle Oyesanya, dismissed the speculation, saying the movement of judges was the prerogative of the CJ.
“There is no basis for that speculation. Judges are usually moved around by the CJ. It could also be that there have always been so many controversies around his judgments. So, they are moving him away from Abuja because Abuja is where highly controversial cases are.
“Even, that Ibori would be tried is speculative because there is no government position on that. Only if government has said so, then we would begin to think so. But to the extent that government has not say so, there is no need for conjecture. I think is a bit reckless to begin to speculate such now,” he said.