Confusion In Enugu Over Sack Of Chief Judge | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Confusion In Enugu Over Sack Of Chief Judge

Innocent Azubike Umezulike
Posted: Oct 1, 2016 at 4:20 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Emmanuel Nzomiwu
Enugu – There is confusion in Enugu State over reports that the National Judicial Council (NJC) has sent the State Chief Judge, Justice Innocent Umezulike, on compulsory retirement.

Reports have it that Umezulike was retired by NJC on Thursday after the commission considered petitions against him, bothering on forgery, bribery and corruption.

The news of his compulsory retirement, which filtered into Enugu yesterday morning, created confusion in the State, especially within executive and judicial circles.

When Independent contacted the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Uwakwe Abugu, he denied any knowledge of the Chief Judge’s sack.

Efforts made to speak with the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Chief Miletus Ezeugworie Eze, also yielded no fruits as at press time on yesterday.

An Enugu-based human rights lawyer, Olu Omotayo, however said he had also heard from reliable judicial sources that the Chief Judge had been sent on compulsory retirement.

The NJC had in June this year, constituted a panel to try the Chief Judge after it received a memo from the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) referring to the Council a petition against the Chief Judge by a senior member of the bar, Mr. Peter Eze, who alleged forgery and misconduct against the Chief Judge.

Following the same petition, the AGF had also asked the Nigerian Police to investigate the forgery allegation and further referred the allegation of the Enugu State Chief Judge corruptly enriching himself to the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission for investigation.

It was gathered that Umezulike’s journey to inglorious retirement started in January last year when CJN queried him over complaint of judicial misconduct made against him by Mr. Eze.

The query with reference number: NJC/S.14/HC.EN/1/III/539 was dated 18th December 2014 and personally signed by the CJN.

In his petitions, Mr. Peter Eze, brought to the attention of the CJN various acts of misconduct of Justice Umezulike, which are in breach of the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

They are: “Organizing the Public Presentation of the Book “A B C of Contemporary Land Law in Nigeria” and inviting a litigant/a person with an interest in a suit before him to be the Special Guest of Honour.

“Accepting the Sum of N10 million publicly from Prince (Engr) Arthur Eze, a litigant in several suits pending before him for the purchase of copies of the said “A B C of Contemporary Land Law in Nigeria” at the public presentation of the book.

“Failure to disqualify himself from hearing cases in which Prince (Engr) Arthur Eze was a litigant before him or had an interest in the subject matter”, the lawyer stated.

Other breaches by Justice Umezulike, according to Eze, are deliberate failure to discharge administrative duties diligently, thereby leading to miscarriage of justice, signing of a judgment order in a suit which he did not hear and victimization.