- The justice presiding over Governor Rochas Okorocha's suit, Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court, has stopped presiding over the case
- Justice Taiwo made the decision on Wednesday, April 9, after a lawsuit was filed against him by a senatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
- Taiwo said that he will send back the case-file back to the chief judge for it to be reassigned to another justice
The justice presiding over Governor Rochas Okorocha's suit, Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja, on Wednesday, April 7, disqualified himself from hearing the incumbent's case.
Okorocha had filed a suit compelling the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue him a certificate of return as the winner of the Imo west senatorial district.
Justice Taiwo, during the court hearing, revealed that following a petition instituted against him by Jones Onyereri, a candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the embattled senatorial poll, he is distancing himself from the case, Vanguard reports.
Taiwo went on to say that he would send the case-file back to the chief judge for it to be reassigned to another justice.
In his suit against Taiwo, Onyereri said: “That this matter came up on 5/4/2019 before Honourable Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Abuja Judicial Division of the Federal High Court of Nigeria. I was one of the lawyers that represented the 2nd defendant/applicant in this matter on the said date.
“That in the course of the said proceedings, the said Judge made utterances which clearly showed that he had taken sides in this matter.
“That the Honourable Justice Taiwo Taiwo told the counsel for the 1st defendant, one Mrs Wendy Kuku, that it was the 1st defendant that caused all the problems that gave rise to this suit. According to His Lordship, if the 1st defendant had done the right thing, there wouldn’t have been the need for parties to come to court.
“That the said Honourable Judge went further to say that he has read through the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) and found nothing therein that robs him of the jurisdiction to hear his suit.
“That this pronouncement shocked all the counsel who were present in court and even the members of the public and pressmen who were in the gallery because the 2nd and 3rd Defendants have Notices of Preliminary Objection challenging the jurisdiction of the Honourable Court to hear this matter. Those applications are yet to be taken by the court.
“That it was evidently clear to all and sundry that His Lordship had made up his mind on what to do about this matter and taken a position on the applications challenging his jurisdiction to hear the case before commencing hearing of the said applications.
“That the 2nd defendant/applicant has consequently lost confidence in the ability of the Honourable Justice Taiwo Taiwo to hold the scale of justice in this matter any longer. Okorocha’s appointee angry over certificate of return
“That following the aforesaid utterances, there was serious altercation between the lead counsel for the 3rd defendant, Orji Nwafo- Orizu, Esq, and plaintiff’s lead counsel which led the lead counsel for the 2nd defendant to request that the senior counsel in the matter see and have audience with his Lordship in chambers.
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“That the application was granted, and I was informed by N. A. Nnawuchi, SAN of counsel at Reiz Continental Hotel, Plot 779, Cadastral Zone AO, Central Business District, Abuja on 6/4/19 by 6pm and I verily believe that in the subsequent meeting that held in his Lordship’s chambers, our aforesaid lead counsel, N.A. Nwawuchi SAN urged his Lordship to disqualify himself from hearing this suit in view of his utterances in open court as averred above.”
Earlier, Legit.ng reported that Okorocha had said that INEC’s decision to withhold his Certificate of Return after being declared winner of the Imo west senatorial election is unfortunate and unconstitutional.
The governor made the assertion at the Imo Government House on Wednesday, March 13 while addressing thousands of youths who were protesting over the conduct of the 2019 elections in the state.
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