Orji Kalu: HURIWA Calls for Sanction of Nigerian Judges
- HURIWA has queried Nigerian judges for presiding in federal high court despite their elevation to the court of appeal
- The right group argued that the prosecution of a former Abia state Governor, Orji Uzor Kalu was maliciously carried out as the judges that presided had already been moved to the appeal court
- A statement by HURIWA's coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko advocated serious sanction of the alleged erring judges
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FCT, Abuja - Prominent civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, has challenged the National Judicial Council, NJC, through the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Mohammed, to sanction Justice Mohammed Idris and other judges for presiding over cases in federal high courts despite their elevation to the Court of Appeal.
In a statement on Wednesday, February 16, 2022, the national coordinator of HURIWA, Emmanuel Onwubiko, said the CJN and the NJC should immediately recommend punishment for Idris over the “malicious prosecution” of a former governor of Abia State, Uzor Kalu.
HURIWA, in an earlier letter to the CJN dated February 14, 2022, recalled that on Friday, May 8, 2021, the Supreme Court of Nigeria overturned the judgment of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos State which convicted and sentenced Senator Orji Uzor Kalu to 12 years imprisonment for alleged fraud.
The right group argued in the letter that the rationale for the judgment of the apex court was that His Lordship (Idris) was not a judge of the Federal High Court having been elevated to the Court of Appeal in June 2018 and that it was wrong to have conducted the trial from the time of such elevation.
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Details of HURIWA's letter
HURIWA said the decision was allegedly based on the clear and unambiguous provisions of sections 249 and 253 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) which, in summary, provides for the federal high court to be duly constituted of at least one judge of the (Federal High) Court.
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The group wrote:
“There is no dearth of authority on the interpretation of the foregoing sections vis-à-vis the constitution and jurisdiction of a court to leave any judge in limbo not even amidst laws that purport to derogate from such provisions of the Constitution such as the one upon which the purported fiat was based.
“Furthermore, His Lordship approbated and reprobated when he accepted his appointment as a Justice of the Court of Appeal but continued to act as a judge of the Federal High Court under whatever guise, an issue which the judiciary frowns at. His Lordship had by so doing breached the first rule of logic, the principle of non-contradiction.”
HURIWA calls for sanctions
The human rights body further said that it is obvious that the rules breached by His Lordship are all elementary principles that should take only one of professional incapacity or moral condescension to do.
It said that as far as legality and morality are concerned, the decision of the supreme court in the case makes it clear that the trial was nothing short of malicious prosecution. This, according to HURIWA is one danger His Lordship will indirectly promote if no action is taken in the circumstances.
The letter argued further:
“A combination of other important considerations has made the call for sanction most urgent at this time of our national life. First, there is the problem of alleged political influence represented by the fiat that summoned His Lordship from the Court of Appeal to do that which only a judge of the Federal High Court should do. Second, we are on the heels the general elections and if the ugly trend is not tamed, an inevitable product of that process is elections petition for which elections tribunals will be constituted with the executive now calling the shot in appointment but also preconceived determinations of the outcomes. Unless Your Lordship via the National Judicial Council makes it clear by way of sanction and deterrence, it will be business as usual in which misfits are summoned by politicians to man elections tribunal and validate their illegalities achieved in rigged elections.
“Although there had been circumstances in which judgments have been nullified on the basis of a judge no more being a member of the Court that gave it, the present one is of an unprecedented proportion. It is a uniquely absurd situation that should be given the attention it deserves. We hereby call on Your Lordship to act accordingly by bringing His Lordship to book.”
HURIWA at the forefront of human rights battle
Legit.ng recalls that HURIWA has been at the forefront of the fight against abuse of individual rights in Nigeria.
The rights group had in a statement issued on Wednesday, December 22, 2021, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to give the southeast people a Christmas gift by releasing Nnamdi Kanu.
Kanu has been in the custody of the Department of State Security Services over charges relating to terrorism.