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Why Appeal Court wants Jigawa, Imo judges booked

By Leo Sobechi
04 August 2021   |   4:11 am
For dabbling into the legal disputes surrounding the November 6 governorship poll, in clear contravention of Supreme Court’s warning against flouting territorial jurisdictions...

For dabbling into the legal disputes surrounding the November 6 governorship poll, in clear contravention of Supreme Court’s warning against flouting territorial jurisdictions, Justice Chioma Nwosu-Iheme of the Court of Appeal, Awka Division, said Justices Musa Ubale and B. C. Iheka deserve serious reprimand.

Nwosu-Iheme noted that Ubale and Iheka of Jigawa State and Imo State High Courts ought to recognise their boundaries before admitting offshore cases in their jurisdictions.

She made the assertion while delivering her ruling on a motion brought 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 an earlier order made by Justice Charles C. Okaa of the Anambra State High Court in Awka on July 18.

Okaa had granted an order directing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to include former Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, as APGA candidate on the list of candidates for the November 6 gubernatorial poll.

It would be recalled that on July 16, INEC listed a member of the House of Representatives, Mr. Chukwuma Umeoji, instead of Soludo, as APGA standard bearer, citing an order from the Jigawa State High Court on June 28.

The existence of the Jigawa High Court order was not made public until the eve of July 16, when INEC published the list of contestants, leaving out the former CBN governor, who won the June 23 APGA congress and primary election by almost 94 per cent.

In making the consequential order, Ubale upheld the plaintiff’s argument that Okeke, as the APGA acting national chairman, purportedly took over from one Edozie Njoku after his suspension.

Also, Iheka, on July 30, affirmed that Okeke remains the APGA chairman, with Umeoji as the party’s gubernatorial standard bearer for the November election.

In her remarks after dismissing the motion for a stay of execution, Nwosu-Iheme slammed Anambra politicians of going around the country shopping for favourable judgments to facilitate their desperation to participate in the governorship election instead of appearing before courts with territorial jurisdiction to entertain suits on the election.

While lamenting that some judges and lawyers, who encourage politicians to circumvent the procedure are bringing the legal profession into public contempt, Nwosu-Iheme urged the National Judicial Commission (NJC) to sanction the Jigawa and Imo justices alongside the lawyers that filed the cases before them.