Conflicting Orders: NJC Bars Three Judges From Promotion

The bench yesterday unfolded disciplinary measures for whipping erring judges to line.

The National Judicial Council (NJC) wielded the big stick against three High Court judges for issuing conflicting ex parte orders.
Two of the judges — Okogbule Gbasam and Nusirat Umar — will not move to the “higher Bench” in the next two years, it said.

The third, Edem Kooffreh of the High Court of Cross Rivers State, will remain on the same spot for five years.
Gbasam is a judge of the Rivers State High Court while Umar is of the Kebbi State High Court.

The trio received warning letters which also placed them on a watchlist by the NJC.
They were found culpable of issuing conflicting orders in cases involving the former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus.

Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Ibrahim Muhammad had in August summoned them and their colleagues in Anambra, Jigawa and Imo states over conflicting orders that emanated from their courts.

A statement by the NJC Director of Information, Soji Oye, said the decisions were reached at a meeting presided over by the NJC Deputy Chairman, Justice Mary Peter-Odili.

The statement was however, silent on the fate of the other three High Court judges in Anambra, Jigawa and Imo states.
Oye said although no written petition was presented against the three judges, the NJC relied on its disciplinary power under the 1999 Constitution to investigate the circumstances that led to the spate of ex parte orders granted by some courts of coordinate jurisdiction on matters involving the same parties and subject.

He added that the NJC also approved the appointment of 63 judges for 16 states, including nine heads of court, during the meeting held on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The appointments, according to him, followed the notification of the retirements and deaths of some judges.

Oye’s statement partly reads: “The NJC rose from its two days meeting held on 14th and 15th December 2021, with a resolution to bar the three judges of courts of concurrent jurisdiction who granted conflicting ex parte orders in matters with same parties and subject matter from promotion to the higher bench for a period ranging from two to five years whenever they are due.

“Even though there was no written petition, allegations of corruption or impropriety against the subject judges, council nevertheless, initiated an investigation pursuant to its inherent disciplinary powers under the Constitution to unravel 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.

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