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Anambra APGA crisis: Lawyers’ group ask NJC to probe Jigawa, Imo High Court Judges

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The Nigerian Bar Association, (NBA) Section of Public Interest and Development Law (SPIDEL), has called on the National Judicial Council (NJC) to make Justice Musa Ubale of the Jigawa State High Court at Birnin Kudu and Justice B.C. Iheka of the Imo State High Court in Owerri to appear before it over alleged unprofessional conduct.

SPIDEL chairman, Dr Monday Ubani in a statement signed by Joseph Igwe, a lawyer at Ubani & Co said the two justices should appear before the NJC to explain why they should not be sanctioned over their involvement in the legal crisis rocking the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in Anambra State.

Ubani spoke against the backdrop of last week’s condemnation by Justice Chioma Nwosu-Iheme of the Court of Appeal in Awka of the two justices of the court in Jigawa State and Imo State who allowed lawyers to use their courts for what lawyers described as  “forum shopping.”

He said: “We insist that disciplinary measures, as recommended by Her Lordship, be commenced by the authorities in the NBA and the NJC to act as a check to the incessant embarrassment the legal profession is currently facing in all spheres, and caused by those who are supposed to know and observe the ethics of the profession, whether at the Bar or on the Bench.”

He commended Justice Nwosu-Iheme for her stance to uphold the public good with her pronouncement on forum shopping by lawyers, and added: “We can heave a sigh of relief knowing full well that there are still persons in Nigeria that can stand and speak truth to power.”

It would be recalled that APGA had on June 23 nominated Prof Chukwuma Soludo, former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), as its candidate for the November 6 governorship election in the state.

The Court of Appeal and the High Court in Awka in separate rulings ordered the INEC to recognise Soludo as the APGA candidate based on his winning almost 94 per cent of the votes at the party’s congress of June 23.

The High court in Jigawa State, a court of equal jurisdiction with the High Court in Awka, however, on June 30 gave a declaratory judgment directing INEC to accept Chukwuma Umeoji, who had earlier been disqualified from the primary election by the APGA Screening Committee, as the party’s candidate. The High Court in Imo State was also on July 30 issued a similar order that Umeoji should be recognised as APGA’s candidate without hearing from the APGA chairman.

He also berated politicians in the state for not having, what he called “minimum standards of behaviour in their pursuit of power”, and noted that Anambra politicians are “the most litigious in the country since the inception of democratic rule in 1999.”

He said, “Every electoral season is usually hot in Anambra State with bizarre happenings. There are reported instances where parties in cases already decided by the Supreme Court have re-approached the Supreme Court to set aside its own decisions. Some politicians from the state have actually gone as far as the ECOWAS Court of Justice in a desperate move to acquire political power.”

Ubani also took a swipe at lawyers over their failure to advise their clients and called the actions of such lawyers “shocking and increasingly disgusting”, and said the failure of lawyers to advise their clients accordingly has led to bizarre suits being filed regularly with impunity.

 

David Abakpa

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