OrderPaperToday – The National Judicial Council (NJC) has said that the suspension of Justice Theresa Uzokwe as the Chief Judge of Abia State, by the State’s House of Assembly is “unconstitutional.”
In statement released at the end of its emergency meeting on Wednesday, the Council also announced the suspension of Justice Obisike Orji, who was appointed as the Acting Chief Judge of the State by Governor Okezie Victor Ikpeazu after the removal of Uzokwe.
According to the NJC, in presenting himself to be sworn-in, Justice Orji “raises potential questions of misconduct” and this will be further examined by the Council.
“The suspension of the Chief Judge of Abia State by the State House of Assembly without a prior recommendation by the National Judicial Council violates the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Consequently, the subsequent act of appointing and swearing-in of Hon. Mr. Justice Obisike Orji as the Acting Chief Judge is invalid for being unconstitutional,” the statement said.
Additionally, the Council directed the Governor of Abia State to appoint Justice Onuoha Arisa Kalu Ogwe, who is the next most Senior Judge, to act as the Chief Judge of the State pending the Council’s final resolution on the matter.
Recall that, last Friday, the Abia State House of Assembly passed a resolution, suspending the State’s Chief Judge, Justice Theresa Uzokwe, following a public petition submitted by a Civil Society Organization known as the Global Centre for Peace and Justice.
In its petition, the organization alleged tyranny and obstruction of administration of justice in the State, gross misconduct, denigration of the Office of the Chief Judge, and embezzlement, amongst others.