The dust raised by the December 8, 2014 governorship primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Abia State is yet to settle as the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Mahmud Mohammed has queried the former Judge of the Federal High Court, Umuahia, Justice F.A. Olubanjo over a petition written by a former aspirant of the party in the state, Chief Friday Nwosu.
According to a highly placed source in the judiciary who pleaded anonymity, the query titled, “Denial of fair hearing and attempt to frustrate the conclusion of a governorship pre-election matter for the obvious benefit and undue advantage of the 3rd defendant, the sitting governor of Abia State” was the fall out of a petition written against Justice Olubanjo by Nwosu on October 12, 2015.
The source further hinted that based on the petition, the CJN through the Chief Judge, Federal High Court, Abuja, Justice Ibrahim Auta queried Justice Olubanjo, asking her to address issues raised in Nwosu’s petition within 14 days of the receipt of the letter.
Recall that Nwosu had after the party primaries, in Suit No. FHC/UMU/CS/64/2015 (FHC/ABJ/CS/184/2015): SIR FRIDAY NWOSU V. PDP AND 3 OTHERS instituted a tax forgery suit against Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu at the Federal High Court, Umuahia and joined INEC and the PDP.
Not satisfied with the way the matter was handled, Nwosu petitioned the Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman of the National Judicial Council accusing Justice Olubanjo of frustrating an accelerated hearing of the matter and granting undue advantage to his opponent.
According to the petition, “His Lordship, Hon. Justice F.A. Olubanjo has since21st April 2015 been conducting my case in Suit No. FHC/UM/CS/64/2015 in manners and circumstances that depict that 3rd Defendant, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu (incumbent Governor of Abia State) and his lawyer must be indulged by the Judge to delay or frustrate the hearing and determination of my Suit till the term of office I am seeking to occupy expires in favour of 3rd Defendant.
“This matter was adjourned from 21/4/2015 to 20/5/2015 and on the 20/5/2015, all documents had been filed and exchanged and matter adjourned to 8/6/2015 for adoption but on the 8/6/2015 Hon. Justice F.A. Olubanjo did not sit but the clerk of court gave 26/6/2015 as new date as directed by his lordship the Judge.
“Again on the 7th October 2015 when the matter resumed in court, Hon. Justice F.A. Olubanjo, instead of taking the adoption of written addresses of counsel to all the parties which were all filed and exchanged on or before 20/5/2015 rather adjourned the matter to 19/10/2015 for no reason.
“It is my humble belief that for Hon. Justice F.A. Olubanjo to adjourn my matter from 8/6/2015 to 26/6/2015, to 7/10/2015 and to 19/10/2015 for no reason except perhaps only to enable 3rd Defendant to bring a separate application to transfer the matter to the Abia State High Court is to say the least the highest height of partiality and over indulgence”, Nwosu stated.
Reacting to the accusation, Justice Olubanjo had on Monday, October19, 2015, announced her withdrawal from further hearing the matter and transferred the case file to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Vanguard gathered that the matter has since been re-assigned to another Judge at the Federal High Court, Owerri, Imo State, for adjudication.