APP petitions NJC Chairman, 3 Arms Zone over forceful removal of Justice Agugua as Imo Chief Judge

PETITION AGAINST THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE T. E. CHIKEKA OVER HER ACCEPTANCE AND PRESENTATION OF HERSELF TO BE UNLAWFULLY SWORN-IN AS THE ACTING CHIEF JUDGE OF IMO STATE AND HER ACTIVE CONNIVANCE IN THE ILLEGAL REMOVAL OF HONOURABLE JUSTICE I. O. AGUGUA AS THE LEGITIMATE ACTING CHIEF JUDGE OF IMO STATE – DEMAND FOR HER IMMIDIATE SUSPENSION AND DISCIPLINARY ACTION

It is with a deep sense of concern that we write in respect of the above subject.

As you are aware, the Honourable Justice I. O. Agugua, being the most senior judicial officer, was lawfully appointed as the Acting Chief Judge of Imo State on March, 2020. Her appointment in that capacity followed the due process of law regarding the appointment of judicial officers.

Regrettably, on 15th October, 2021, the Executive Governor of Imo State HE Chief Hope Uzodinma, without recourse to prescribed constitutional process, unlawfully removed the Honourable Justice I. O. Agugua, from office as the Acting Chief Judge of Imo State; and in her stead unilaterally appointed the Honourable Justice T. E. Chikeka, as the Acting Chief Judge of Imo State.

We wish to invite your noble attention to the fact that in the Imo State Judiciary, the three most senior Judges of the High Court are as follows:

  1. Honourable Justice I. O. Agugua;
  2. Honourable Justice C. A. Ononeze Madu; and
  3. Honourable Justice T. E. Chikeka.

This means that Honourable Justice T. E. Chikeka, who has now being appointed as the Acting Chief Judge of Imo State is not the most senior judicial officer in the State and therefore does not come close to the occupation of such office in the event of any vacancy, which does not exist in the present circumstances.

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We also wish to place on record that Honourable Justice T. E. Chikeka, is fully aware of the constitutional provisions relating to appointment of Acting Chief Judges of High Court of States and the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers, but nevertheless connived with the Imo State Governor and illicitly presented herself to be sworn-in as the Acting Chief Judge of the State.

Indeed, the act or conduct of Honourable Justice T. E. Chikeka clearly violated the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers, by allowing her personal selfish interest to override his judicial calling. In this wise, it is clearly condemnable for the Honourable Justice T. E. Chikeka to have connived and clandestinely perfected the illegal removal of the Honourable Justice I. O. Agugua as the Acting Chief Judge and also bypassed the second most senior-ranking judicial officer – Honourable Justice C. A. Ononeze Madu.

You would agree with us that this unbecoming conduct has presented Honourable Justice T. E. Chikeka as a willing stooge and partisan judicial officer; and it is also imperative to point out that, while the Honourable Justice T. E. Chikeka presented himself for swearing-in in the ignominious charade, she was not oblivious of the fundamental fact that her action was unconstitutional and without the approval of the National Judicial Council.

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The disturbing question, which has damaged the sacred image of the judiciary is: why would the Honourable Justice T. E. Chikeka quickly present hersel to be sworn-in as the Acting Chief Judge of Imo State in obvious connivance with politicians and in deliberate desecration of the deepest soul of the institution of judiciary?

Indeed, the despicable action of Honourable Justice T. E. Chikeka has destroyed the judiciary in Imo State and today she is now seen as the face of partisan judicial officer and a product of executive lawlessness who should not be associated with the sacred and hallowed institution of judiciary. This conduct has completely endangered the administration of justice in Imo State.

Please recall that in many other instances, such as the illicit appointment of the Honourable Justice Obisike Orji in Abia State, who unlawfully presented himself to be sworn-in as the Acting Chief Judge of Abia State against the constitutional procedure, the National Judicial Council duly invoked its powers and disciplined the erring Judge accordingly.

DEMANDS

In the exercise of your disciplinary powers, we demand you to urgently suspend, discipline and recommend the immediate retirement of the Honourable Justice T. E. Chikeka forthwith.

In the unlikely event that our demands are met, we may be constrained to seek redress in Court by way of mandamus to compel the National Judicial Council to perform its statutory duty in the circumstances.

We have enclosed herewith an Affidavit verifying the facts herein contained; and sincerely hope that immediate action will be taken on our petition in the overall national interest.

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Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

…………

Cc:

  1. Chairman, Body of Benchers,
    Abuja.
  2. The Honourable Justice I. O. Agugua,
    High Court of Imo State,
    Owerri,
    Imo State.
  3. The Honourable Justice C. A. Ononeze Madu,
    High Court of Imo State,
    Owerri,
    Imo State.
  4. The Honourable Justice T. E. Chikeka,
    High Court of Imo State,
    Owerri,
    Imo State.

IN THE FEDERAL HIGH COURT OF NIGERIA
IN THE ABUJA JUDICIAL DIVISION
HOLDEN AT ABUJA

        VERIFYING AFFIDAVIT OF FACTS

I, ……………….., Nigerian citizen, Christian and Adult of Area 8, Garki, Abuja do hereby make an oath and state as follows:

  1. That I am a National Officer in the Action Peoples Party (APP), the Petitioner herein, by reason of which I am conversant with the facts and circumstances deposed.
  2. That the Action Peoples Party has written a Petition dated 6th December, 2021 to the Chairman of the National Judicial Council against the The Honourable Justice T. E. Chikeka.
  3. That I verify all the facts contained therein as being true and correct.
  4. That I depose this Affidavit in good faith; while believing its contents to be true and correct in accordance with the Oaths Act Cap O1, LFN, 2004.

DEPONENT

Sworn to at the Registry of the Federal High Court of
Nigeria at Abuja this day of December, 2021.

BEFORE ME

COMMISSIONER FOR OATHS

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