The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, has condemned the removal of the Chief Judge of Abia State, Justice Theresa Uzokwe, by the state House of Assembly.
It equally condemned Governor Okezie Ikpeazu’s decision replacing Justice Uzokwe with Justice Obisike Orji as acting Chief Judge of Abia State.
In a statement on Sunday by its Deputy Director, Adewale Timothy, SERAP argued that Justice Uzokwe’s removal violated sections 292(1)(a)(ii) and 21(d) Part 11 of the Third Schedule to the 1999 Constitution.
It said, “It amounts to a blatant attack on the integrity and independence of the judiciary. No judge, anywhere in Nigeria, can be removed without the involvement of the National Judicial Council, no matter the level of allegations of misconduct against that judge.”
Justice Uzokwe was reportedly removed last Friday as the Abia State Chief Judge by the state House of Assembly which reportedly adopted the report of an eight-man ad-hoc committee which indicted her of misconduct.
But SERAP contended that the removal of the CJ was politically-motivated.
It called for the immediate restoration of the Chief Judge to office, threatening to resort to a legal action should its call be ignored.
It said, “Governor Ikpeazu must rescind his illegal appointment of a new Chief Judge, and the Abia State House of Assembly must withdraw the apparently politically-motivated suspension of Justice Uzokwe without further delay. Doing so will be entirely consistent with the decision of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in the case of Raliat Elelu-Habeed & anor v Attorney General of the Federation and Attorney General of Kwara State (2012).
“If allowed to stand, the suspension of Justice Uzokwe would set a bad example to other state governments, and dangerously move them toward executive and legislative dominance and control over the judiciary.
Should Ikpeazu and the House fail to restore Justice Uzokwe back to her position, SERAP will undertake appropriate legal action including before the NJC and the UN special procedure mechanisms, to seek justice and effective remedies in this matter.
Source: ( Punch Newspaper )