The National Judicial Council (NJC) yesterday orders the immediate suspension of Abia State Chief Judge, Justice T. U. Uzokwe and mandated Governor Okezie Victor Ikpeazu to swear in Justice Obisike Orji in acting capacity.
According to a statement issued by the Council’s spokesperson, Soji Oye, the decision was taken yesterday at an emergency meeting held in Abuja to addressed the crisis in Abia state Judiciary through petitions written against Justice T.U. Uzokwe and the one written by the Chief Judge against Justice C. U. Okoroafor.
The NJC noted that in the course of the investigation by the Committees set up by Council, some elderly Judicial Officers of Abia State Judiciary waded in and pleaded with the Committees to allow the matter to be resolved amicably by them, which was granted by Council at its plenary.
But at the last Meeting of Council which was held on 6th December, 2017, Council directed the Committees to continue and conclude with the petitions before them if there were no reports of the settlement by the peace makers. While this was going on, the problem escalated and Council was informed of the suspension of Justice Uzokwe and the swearing-in of Justice Obisike Orji as the Acting Chief Judge
The NJC resolved that 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.
In view of the recent escalation, Council, in the interest of the smooth administration of justice in Abia state, resolved to direct the Chief Judge, Justice T. U. Uzokwe, to stay away from duties pending Council’s final decision after consideration of the report of its panels.
National Judicial Council directed the Chief Judge not to perform his duties and mandated the Governor of Abia State to appoint Justice Onuoha Arisa Kalu Ogwe, the next most senior Judge to act as the Chief Judge of Abia State pending Council’s final resolution of the matter.