By Joe Akwarandu, Umuahia
The National Judicial Council (NJC) has recommended the compulsory retirement of the earlier suspended Chief Judge of Abia State, Justice Theresa Uzokwe, after it was discovered that she had received N825,000 only in favour of a litigant, and subsequently signed a garnishee order of N109,612,500.
In a statement, the spokesman of the NJC, Mr. Soji Oye, said the council also recommended the retirement of a judge in Abia State High Court, Justice Obisike Orji. He disclosed that stern warnings were issued to Justice S. E Aladetoyinbo of the FCT High Court and Justice Olusola Ajibike Williams of Lagos State High Courts.
According to the statement, Honourable Justice Theresa Uzokwe was recommended for compulsory retirement following the findings of two investigative committees set up by the Council.
The committees investigated petitions against her by Umeh Kalu, SAN, Attorney-General/ Commissioner for Justice of Abia State, alleging illegal constitution and working with a parallel Judicial Service Commission instead of the one constituted by the state governor and confirmed by the House of Assembly.
According to Oye, the NJC, under the chairmanship of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mr. Walter Onnoghen, took the decisions at its 85th meeting which held on last week Wednesday.
The Abia State House of Assembly had on January 26, 2018 passed a resolution suspending Justice Uzokwe as the state’s chief judge. It directed Governor Ikpeazu to appoint an acting chief judge pending the completion of investigation by its committee into alleged acts of Justice Uzokwe’s misconduct.
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The governor had subsequently appointed Justice Orji in acting capacity. But the NJC on January 31, 2018, declared the suspension of Justice Uzokwe, by the House of Assembly of the state as unconstitutional, the step having been taken without any recommendation by the council.
While directing Justice Uzokwe to step aside, the NJC had also suspended Justice Oji for submitting himself for unconstitutional swearing as the Acting CJ. Concerning Justice Oji, the statement said he was sanctioned for allowing himself to be sworn in as acting chief judge.
The statement read in part, “Hon. Mr. Justice Obisike Oji was earlier queried by the council for allowing himself to be sworn in as Acting Chief Judge, and thereby colluding in, and aiding an unconstitutional process. “His reply was unsatisfactory and the council recommended his compulsory retirement.
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