Orji Kalu: Why NJC must sanction Mohammed Idris, other judges – HURIWA
Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has asked the National Judicial Council through the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Mohammed, to sanction Justice Mohammed Idris, and other judges for presiding over cases in Federal High Court despite their elevation to the Court of Appeal.
In a statement on Wednesday, National Coordinator of HURIWA, Emmanuel Onwubiko, said the CJN and the NJC should immediately recommend punishment for Idris over the “malicious prosecution” of 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-year imprisonment for alleged fraud.
The letter partly read, “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 was wrong to have conducted the trial from the time of such elevation.
“The decision was 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.
“There is no dearth of authority on the interpretation of the forgoing 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.
“It is obvious that the rules breached by His Lordship are all elementary principles which should take only one of professional incapacity or moral condescension to do. As far as the 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 is one danger Your Lordship will indirectly promote if no action is taken in the circumstances; the ramifications for our system and innocent Nigerians are far too damning and dangerous. Your Lordship cannot close his eyes to alleged judicial compromise and persecution on the back of tax payers’ money.
“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.”
February 15, 2022
National Coordinator – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA).