FULL TEXT: The Petition that led to the suspension of Abia Chief Judge Uzokwe

By Factnews on 28/01/2018

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Below is the petition that prompted the suspension of Justice Theresa Uzokwe as Abia Chief Judge by the state House of Assembly:

 

 

 

 

22nd January, 2018

 

The Rt. Hon. Speaker,

Abia State House of Assembly,

Umuahia.

 

Dear Sir,

 

JUSTICE THERESA UZOKWE’S UNENDING ACTS OF TYRANNY, INFAMY, GROSS MISCONDUCT AND INCOMPETENCE: URGENT NEED TO SAVE THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE IN ABIA STATE

 

We are constrained by the obvious acts of gross misconduct, ineptitude, and non adherence to established guidelines and principles in the administration of the Judiciary since the emergence of Justice Theresa Uzoamaka Uzokwe as Chief Judge Abia State, which acts has adversely affected Justice Administration in the State, to forward this Petition to you. This Petition is made for ourselves and on behalf of the Global Centre for Peace and Justice.

 

Presently the Judiciary in Abia State has almost grinded to a halt occasioned by the tyrannical and reckless acts of the Chief Judge, which acts have brought this important arm of Government to disrepute, ridicule and public odium.

 

We will in the preceding paragraphs of this Petition catalogue some of the very despicable, disgraceful and condemnable acts committed by Justice Uzokwe within the last Two (2) years of her administration.

Since the creation of Abia State till date, Abia has had Five (5) substantive heads of the Judiciary (Chief Judge), viz Justice F.I.E Ukata, Justice K.O Amah, Justice S.N. Imo, Justice Nnenna Otti and presently, Justice Uzokwe. It is equally apt to mention here that there was an interregnum where the Judiciary had an avalanche of acting Chief Judges, which saw the emergence of the following as acting Chief Judges – Justice Ijeoma Offonry, Justice Nnenna Otti, Justice Uzokwe, Justice S.O.E Nwanosike and Justice Stella Nwakanma.

Justice Theresa Uzokwe was appointed Chief Judge in December 2014, following the statutory retirement of Justice Nnenna Otti. The appointment of Justice Uzokwe was not without controversy, as there was unprecedented and sustained opposition from virtually all major stakeholders in the justice delivery sector in the State.

 

The Bar in the State, including senior members, was opposed to her appointment. Judiciary staff were equally not left out in expressing their disapproval over her appointment, including Judges who knew Justice Uzokwe from the old Imo State. Most of the people who were opposed to Justice Uzokwe’s appointment, cited her known erratic nature and various past acts of known misconduct.

 

The issue of her being a non - indigene of Abia State, in all ramifications (birth and marriage) was equally cited as a disqualifying factor. It was noted that no State, prior to Justice Uzokwe’s appointment as Chief Judge had acceded to a non – indigene heading an arm of Government of the State, apart from Borno State (during the military era) that requested the Chief Justice of Nigeria to provide a Chief Judge for the State, due to want of manpower for that office in their State. This request by Borno State led to the appointment of Justice Kalu Anya, who was thereafter sent packing under controversial circumstances.

 

Despite all the above opposition to Justice Uzokwe’s appointment, the then Governor of the State, Senator T.A Orji, in his largeness of heart and in his bid to drown criticisms emanating from the patriotic/retaliatory act of returning non – indigenous Civil Servants to their States of origin, proceeded to appoint Justice Uzokwe as the Chief Judge of the State.

 

Justice Uzokwe has since her appointment not only proved all those who opposed her appointment right in their opposition, but has also virtually rendered the Judiciary prostrate.

DENIGRATION OF THE OFFICE OF THE CHIEF JUDGE 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The above mentioned acts amongst others not mentioned here for want of time and space have denigrated the office of the Chief Judge of our State, as the above conduct obviously should not be expected of a Judicial Officer, more so a Chief Judge.

ACTS OF LAWLESSNESS AND DISRESPECT TO STATE AUTHORITIES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FINANCIAL MALFEASANCE AND EMBEZZLEMENT OF FUNDS OF THE JUDICIARY

 

 

 

 

 

 

OVERSEAS TRIPS

 

MORBID HATRED FOR ABIA STATE AND HER CITIZENS

 

 

 

  1. Destruction of the official quarters of the Chief Judge:Prior to the appointment of Justice Uzokwe as Chief Judge in 2015, Abia State had an Official Quarters for the Chief Judge of the State. The quarters of the Chief Judge is situate along Okpara Avenue and very close to the exit gate of the Government House, Umuahia. It is a fenced, gated and expansive compound with a very big house consisting of a large basement. Justice S.N. Imo resided in that premises comfortably with his large family for the entire period he was the Chief Judge, up to his retirement. Chief Judge Nnenna Otti had a brief tenure of six months as Chief Judge and preferred to come to work from Owerri where she had resided all through her working years. On being appointed Chief Judge, Justice Uzokwe insisted that the premises be upgraded by adding an additional floor whereupon she presented a bill of One Hundred and Seventy Million Naira (N 170, 000, 000) to the Government. The Due Process Office after examining the Bill of Quantities approved Seventy Million Naira (N 70, 000, 000) for the renovation. Justice Uzokwe rejected the involvement of the Ministry of Housing in the renovation works and insisted on her chosen architect for the renovation, who eventually turned out to be an Anambra State citizen practicing in Lagos State. Government obliged her and gave her an initial sum of Twenty Million Naira              (N 20, 000, 000) to commence the project. More than One (1) year after receipt of the Twenty Million Naira (N 20, 000, 000), Justice Uzokwe has only removed the roof to the building, carted away all the furniture and fittings in the premises left by the last occupier and has left the premises in that state for over Twelve (12) months, while insisting that she must get the entire sum provided for the project before commencement. Presently, Abia State has no official Chief Judge’s quarters to the delight and comfort of Justice Uzokwe, which fact she uses as a tool to blackmail the Government and people of Abia State. In addition, she continues to draw money from Government coffers for hotel accommodation in Umuahia, while it is public knowledge that she commutes from her residence in Osisioma to Umuahia for work.

 

  1. Conversion of a Judgment debt of Eight Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira (N 850,000) to One Hundred and Nine Million Naira (N 109 million): Sometime in 2009, Justice Uzokwe awarded judgment in the sum of Eight Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira            (N 850,000) against Ikwuano Local Government A in favour of one Austify Nigeria Ltd who claimed he supplied stationeries to Ikwuano Local Government Council. This judgment sum of Eight Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira (N 850,000) gave birth few years later, without any justifiable reason whatsoever to a Garnishee Proceeding in the sum of One Hundred and Nine Million Naira (N 109 million). Justice Uzokwe has employed all tricks in her bag including coercing Government officials and bank officials into paying Twenty Million Naira (N 20 million) to the said Austify Nigeria Ltd, who has not given up in their bid to defraud the State Government, with the tacit connivance of Justice Uzokwe. The One Hundred and Nine Million Naira (N109 million) Garnishee Proceedings emanating out of a Judgment debt of Eight Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira (N850,000) is a bare fraud orchestrated by Justice Uzokwe even when the initial Judgment sum of Eight Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira (N 850,000) is subject of a pending appeal at the court of Appeal Owerri Division.

 

  1. Justice Uzokwe has since assumption of office as the Chief Judge refused to convene a single Administration of Justice meeting: This meeting is customarily a quarterly meeting held at the Headquarters of the Judiciary with the Attorney – General and Commissioner for Justice, the Director of Public Prosecution, the Commissioner of Police, the Comptroller of Prisons, select Judges especially Heads of Judicial Divisions and some Magistrates in attendance. This quarterly meeting is aimed at appraising criminal justice delivery in the State with a view to ameliorating obstacles and bottlenecks on criminal justice administration in the State. It aids in decongestion of prisons and fostering cooperation and collaboration amongst the vital organs engaged in adjudication of criminal matters. The Chairman and convener of the meeting is the Chief Judge. However, since Justice Uzokwe assumed office, she has failed or neglected to convene this meeting to the detriment of justice administration in the State.

 

  1. Denial of IGR to the State Government - Since assumption of office, she has not signed any Probate Certificate for the Ministry of Justice, despite several applications to her office by the Director of Estates and Trust. This has resulted in loss of revenue that would have accrued to the State by way of Estate Management Fees. She has not administered any Justice of the Peace regime. Several applications by Abia citizens to be appointed as Justices of the Peace have been left unattended thereby denying Government revenue accruing therefrom.

 

  1. Non – existence of Family Court in Abia State:

Most States in the country including Abia State have adopted the provisions of the Child Rights Act, as enacted by the National Assembly as State Law. Abia State has for several years passed its Child Rights Law, which provides for the establishment of a Family Court to give effect to that law. Justice Uzokwe has been on the saddle as the head of the Judiciary for over Two (2) years and neglected/refused to dedicate One (1) of the Courts in the State as a family Court, in order to ensure that the State and her citizens do not benefit from the creation of that Court. The effect of this state of affairs has rendered impotent the Child Rights Law as passed by the State House of Assembly and assented to by the Governor. Rather than establish a Family Court, she and her erstwhile dismissed Chief Registrar, Mrs. Akwiwu (even after her dismissal from service) have heightened activities at what they call ‘Adoption Court’ – a place they have designated as adoption Court, which investigations have shown that the so – called adoption Court is a goldmine targeted at persons living abroad and desirous of adopting young citizens of Abia State. Operations in the adoption Court are closely guarded and supervised between Justice Uzokwe and her erstwhile Chief Registrar, even after the said Chief Registrar was dismissed from Service. The Probate section of the High Court which ordinarily should be yielding revenue to the State has since her emergence as Chief Judge become a self – serving institution to Justice Uzokwe and her cronies. All the experienced staff in that department have been posted out, making way for her preferred staff whose allegiance is only to Justice Uzokwe and not to the State.

 

  1. Justice Uzokwe’s Role in the Non Existence of the National Industrial Court in Abia State -   Justice Uzokwe has refused to provide a Court Hall for the establishment of a Division of the National Industrial Court in Abia State, despite repeated requests by the President of the National Industrial Court, and a written approval by the State Governor to that effect, leaving Abia State as one of the few States (if not the only State) in the Country without a Division of the National Industrial Court. This is in her continued bid to exact hardship on Abia Citizens and Abia based legal practitioners, who have to travel long distances, especially to Owerri, Imo State, in order to have access to the National Industrial Court. The establishment of a National Industrial Court in the State, will not only give citizens of the State easy access to Justice, like citizens of other States, but will also provide jobs for its citizens. Justice Uzokwe who does not want any good thing in Abia State has refused to make available one of the vacant Court halls to the National Industrial Court, which gesture would have yielded to the building of a permanent Industrial Court Complex in the State.

 

  1. Ill treatment to sundry Judiciary staff – Judges, Magistrates and other Staff:

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Recently, Justice Uzokwe issued an imperial decree/directive which no Chief Judge in the history of our State or the country has ever done, by directing all Judges in Abia State including Heads of Judicial Divisions and Registrars of Courts in the State to forward to her Chambers on filing, all Suits involving Government Ministries, Agencies or arms of Government in the State. All political matters are also to be forwarded to Justice Uzokwe amongst others. The purport of this directive which is in clear breach of the High Court Law of Abia State is to emphasize the imperial stature Justice Uzokwe occupies over her fellow Judges.

 

  1. Another clear case of Justice Uzokwe’s disdain for Abia State and her citizens is her sour relationship with Justices of higher Courts who are of Abia origin or are retired Judges:

 

Justice Uzokwe since her emergence of Chief Judge has never considered it worthwhile to invite our revered Justices of the Appellate Courts and retired Judges to ceremonial events of the Judiciary. It is a known fact that rather than Justice Uzokwe invite these Justices to events of the High Court, she would circulate letters to virtually every jurisdiction of Courts in the country even when these invitations are not honoured. She takes pride in deriding the only Justice of the Supreme Court produced by Abia State, in the person of Justice Ogbuagu, JSC, and only recently verbally abused and embarrassed this legal icon at the Owerri airport. The scene was witnessed by a serving Judge in the Abia State Judiciary.

 

Justice Uzokwe has no consideration whatsoever in the area of welfareof both serving and retired Justices. This is so much so that almost Twelve (12) months after the retirement of Justice Stella Nwakanma, who was the head of the Judiciary in acting capacity for more than Six (6) months, no valedictory Court session has been held in her honour. Justice Uzokwe has both as a serving Judge and Chief Judge ensured that she benefited from every Government exercise on provision of vehicles to the Judiciary. She is so inconsiderate and insatiable in her demand for luxury that at the last count, she has about seven luxury vehicles in her premises while fellow Judges who ordinarily should enjoy the same terms and conditions of service as Judicial Officers have barely two cars.

 

While she continues in her globe - trotting and frivolous trips to every country in the world, she has continued to discriminate against some marked Judges in the Abia State Judiciary who, despite having served the State for more than Ten (10) years, and above have not had the privilege of leaving the shores of this country.

 

All the good things in the Judiciary are meant for Justice Uzokwe. It is common knowledge that the big generator in the High Court premises can only be switched on when Justice Uzokwe is in the premises and presently, she has disconnected all other Court halls in the High Court Headquarters from the main power supply.

 

JUSTICE UZOKWE’S BIZARRE, WEIRD AND UNCONVENTIONAL ADJUDICATORY STYLE

 

 

 

“ …The learned trial Judge even went further to manufacture or conjecture evidence from her imagination in her apparent desperate search for reasons to do away with the Appellant, when she said

 

“I am satisfied that the car was pushed into the river by

the Accused person who had to leave the driver’s door open and the window wound down in order to be able to  turn the steering wheel and the car to the direction of the river and then pushed it into the river with the deceased strapped with her seat belt and unconscious”

 

“Of course, none of the above findings by the trial Judge was based on evidence before the Court as they appeared to be mere wishful thinking, speculations and/or imaginations of the learned trial Judge to justify her conviction of the Appellant!”

 

“This, to say the least, is very sad and unfortunate. A trial judge must not been seen to descend into the arena of conflict in a trial, to generate evidence or facts not canvassed or adduced by the witnesses or apparent on the face of the records before him to decide a case. A Court is never allowed to make a case for any of the parties before it different from what a party presents to the Court”

 

“But I think what the learned trial Court considered as constituting such very strong, cogent, complete and irresistible conclusion that Appellant was the perpetrator of the deadly crime, turned out to be the conjectures and speculations or deductions by the learned trial Court, from a very bare and undisguised stories of persecution and evil scheme by the family members of the deceased wife of the Appellant, to hold him for the death of their sister”

 

“Sadly, the trial Court elected to believe a lie and even actively worked to promote the lie; that Appellant quarreled with the wife and threatened to kill her, if she would not allow him to take custody of their children (in the event of their divorce, which was never contemplated, except in the imagination of the deceased siblings, and the story only came up after the demise of the Appellant’s wife!)

The trial judge even made the story more ridiculous, when she, on her own, supplied another evidence on how the car got into the river; that the Appellant had attacked the wife with fatal blows on the face and head, to the point of unconsciousness before pushing the car with her, strapped in her seat belt, into the river! Haba!”

 

No State in this country would allow a character who has been described in the above manner by Justices of the Court of Appeal, to continue to preside in a Court of law in their State, what more heading their Judiciary.

 

MENTAL HEALTH OF JUSTICE UZOKWE

 

 

PARTICIPATION IN PARTISAN POLITICS

 

 

 

“My lords, I am directed by the Honorable Chief Judge to respectfully inform you that the attention of the Chief Judge has been drawn to a State visit by His Excellency, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to God’s own State, Abia State. As the head of Judiciary, the honorable CJ shall be required to be amongst the welcoming party. Unfortunately this has coincided with the scheduled emergency meeting for Tuesday. The rescheduled date will be communicated to your Lordships in due course”

 

Who drew the attention of the Chief Judge to the visit by the President?

* When did President’s attendance to his party’s mega rally turn to a State visit?

* Who constituted the welcome party for the President to which Justice Uzokwe claimed membership?

 

 

 

All patriotic Abians and indeed the peoples’ representatives (Hon. House of Assembly members) must rise to the occasion at this critical time to save Abia State Judiciary from its downward slide and restore the dignity and respect of that important arm of Government. We must make resort to our extant Laws, especially the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) wherein various provisions have been made for the peoples’ representative i.e the House of Assembly to act patriotically and decisively in situations such as the one we find ourselves.

 

We therefore urge the Abia State House of Assembly, as a matter of extreme urgency, to invoke her powers as provided for in Section 292 (1) (a) (ii) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as Amended) in the interest of the protection of the administration of Justice in Abia State.

 

For purposes of clarity, Section 292 (1) (a) (ii) provides –

 

292. (1) “A judicial officer shall not be removed from his office or appointment before his age of retirement except in the following circumstances -

 

(a)(ii) Chief Judge of a State, Grand Kadi of a Sharia Court of Appeal or President of a Customary Court of Appeal of a State, by the Governor acting on an address supported by two-thirds majority of the House of Assembly of the State,

 

Praying that he be so removed for his inability to discharge the functions of his office or appointment (whether arising from infirmity of mind or of body) or for misconduct or contravention of the Code of Conduct.”

 

 

THE TIME TO ACT AND TO REMOVE JUSTICE THERESA UZOAMAKA UZOKWE IS NOW, BEFORE OUR SITUATION BECOMES IRREDEEMABLE.

 

 

 

Dr. A.C.B Agbazuere Esq.                                                     O.O Nkume Esq.

Executive Director                                                             Director Legal Services

 

 

Posted on January, 28 2018

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