By Vincent Ufuoma, ICIR
The National Judiciary Council (NJC) has barred three judges of the Federal High Court from promotion within the next three to five years for granting conflicting ex-parte orders.
NJC’s National Director of Information Soji Oye made this known in a statement on Thursday.
According to Oye, the decision was the outcome of the NJC’s two-day meeting held at the national secretariat of the commission between December 14 and 15, 2021.
He noted that the meeting was chaired by the Deputy Chairman of Council Justice Mary Peter-Odili.
The affected judges, according to the statement, were Justice Okogbule Gbasam of the High Court of Rivers State, Justice Nusirat I. Umar of the High Court of Kebbi State, and Justice Edem Ita Kooffreh of the High Court of Cross River State.
Gbasam was barred from elevation to a higher Bench for two years whenever he was due, while Umar was banned for two years whenever she was also due. Kooffreh was barred from promotion for five years over alleged abuse of court process.
Although there were no petition, allegations of corruption or impropriety against the judges, the NJC said it initiated investigation pursuant to its inherent disciplinary powers under the constitution.
Oye said the investigation unraveled the circumstances that led to the spate of ex-parte orders granted by these courts of coordinate jurisdiction over matters bearing same parties and subject matter.
The NJC had, in September, set up a probe panel to investigate the judges.
The Ex-parte Orders
It will be recalled that Okogbule Gbasam of the Rivers State High Court in Port Harcourt, on August 24, 2021, issued an interim injunction restraining Uche Secondus from parading himself as the National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
The judge issued the order following an ex-parte application filed by Ibeawuchi Alex, Dennis Amadi, Emmanuel Stephen, and Umezerike Onucha, Alwho were plaintiffs.
But in a counter ruling delivered on August 26, Nusirat Umar of Kebbi State High Court restored Secondus to office.
Umar had issued the controversial order in a suit by four members of the PDP in the state, namely Yahaya Usman, Abubakar Muhammad, and Bashar Suleman, who filed the ex-parte application, seeking an order of stay of execution of the suspension order issued by the Rivers State High Court.
Kooffreh was said to have granted an ex-parte order in a suit between Enang Kanum Wani and Uche Secondus. In the suit, he had restrained Secondus from resuming office as the National Chairman of the PDP.
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