Abia lawmakers suspend chief judge, Ikpeazu swears in justice Oji in acting capacity
Abia State Governor Okezie Ikpeazu yesterday swore in Justice Obisike Oji as the acting Chief Judge (CJ) in place of the substantive CJ, Justice Theresa Uzokwe, who was earlier in the day suspended from office by members of the state House of Assembly.
The lawmakers had held that Justice Uzokwe, a native of Anambra State, would remain suspended to allow investigation into allegations leveled against her by Global Centre For Peace and Justice (GCPJ), a non-governmental organisation, which in a 16-page petition against her, titled, ‘Justice Theresa Uzokwe’s Unending Acts of Tyranny, Infamy, Gross Misconduct and Incompetence: Urgent Need To Save The Administration of Justice In Abia State,” stated that the acts were adversely affecting administration of justice in the state.
The petition, dated January 22, this year, a copy of which was made available to The Guardian, was jointly signed by its state Executive Director, Dr. Anthony Agbazuere, a former state commissioner at different times, and Obinna Nkume, Director Legal Services.
The petition was brought to the attention of the House during its session yesterday as a matter of urgent public importance by the member representing Ukwa West Constituency, citing Section 292 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, which empowers the House to investigate the allegations leveled against Justice Uzokwe.
Immediate past speaker of the House, Chief Martins Azubuike, representing Isiala Ngwa North, however, urged the House to be accordingly guided by Section 36 of the constitution, which provides for fair hearing in handling petitions.
Thereafter, following the motion moved by the Deputy Majority Leader, Chief Solomon Akpulonu, and seconded by the Minority Leader, Chief Abraham Oba, the members resolved that Justice Uzokwe be suspended from office, while an ad hoc committee be set up to investigate the allegations leveled against her.
Accordingly, the Speaker, Chief Chikwendu Kalu, announced the suspension of Justice Uzokwe and mandated the governor to appoint an acting CJ, “in order not to create a lacuna within the justice system in the state.”
Kalu also announced the constitution of an eight-member committee, headed by the member representing Obinwa West, Chidiebere Thomas Nkoro, to carry out the investigation of the suspended CJ within seven days and report its findings to the House.
While swearing in Justice Obisike Oji at the Government House, Ikpeazu said he was doing so in compliance with the country’s constitution, having received the resolution of the House a few hours earlier, suspending Justice Uzokwe, in line with the constitution, being the next in rank.He tasked Justice Oji to work towards restoring the confidence of the people in the judiciary.An elatedly Justice Orji pledged to ensure smooth justice delivery system in the state to enable the state move forward.
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