Thirty-six former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members in the House of Representatives, who defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC), have initiated a campaign for the dismissal of Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court for alleged bias.
The defected lawmakers in a petition to the National Judicial Council (NJC) claimed that Justice Ademola is not “a fit and proper person to occupy a judicial office and should be dismissed, having contravened the provisions of the code of conduct for judicial officer”.
They accused Justice Ademola of “judicial misconduct” while adjudicating on suit FHC/ABJ/CS/4/2014 filed by the PDP to challenge their defection to the opposition on December 18, last year.
The petitioners urged the NJC to investigate the judge with a view to sanitizing the judiciary.
They premised their demand for Justice Ademola’s dismissal on the grounds that he “overruled a superior court in issuing preservatory order while jurisdiction was being challenged”; that he made “pronouncements on the substantive issue (of vacation of members’ seats) before another judge that was not before him”, and that he was “a serially controversial judge”.
The 36 lawmakers said they “owe it a duty to the judiciary and the state to report what we consider as travesty of justice occasioned by a judge whose disposition from the outset of the case showed undiluted bias”.
They asked: “How would a judge rule that a political party has locus to stop a legislative house from carrying out its internal affairs; that a legislative house would be restrained perpetually from voting somehow or from changing its leadership?”
They claimed that Justice Ademola over-stepped the brief before him; which was to stop members of the House of Representatives, who defected from PDP to APC from changing the House leadership.
“In principle, judges must not ordinarily fiddle suo motu into matters not canvassed before them. However, because this judge was so ready to rule against the defendants for reasons best known to him, he became even more political than the plaintiff. The plaintiff nowhere sought for a relief under Section 68 (1) (g) of the Constitution. Indeed, their lawyer, Yunus Usman (SAN), in open court said that the matter had nothing to do with Section 68 (1) (g) of the constitution”, they said.
The lawmakers added: “The judgment of Justice Ademola and the orders he made and the passing comments were clearly politically motivated and did not demonstrate legal jurisprudential erudition”.
The lawmakers expressed surprise that the judge refused to hear the preliminary objections on the case.
“All the defendants to the suit including those who belong to PDP filed preliminary objections to the jurisdiction of Justice Ademola on various grounds, among which were issue of non-justifiability of the case”.
The lawmakers continued: “Lawyers to the defendants addressed the court that since the preliminary objections were challenging the jurisdiction of the judge, it must be ruled first and that the judge could not as yet issue any preservatory orders.
“The judge (Justice Ademola) after long hours of argument, though agreeing with the positions taken by the defence (House Leadership), decided to make orders that the status quo be maintained leadership should not be changed until determination of the main case”.
It would be recalled that Justice Ademola, in his judgment on March 31, in a suit filed by the PDP, declared that the defected legislators were not competent to sponsor, contribute or vote on any motion calling for a change in the House leadership.
According to the Judge, there was no division within the ranks of PDP which is the requirement of Section 68 (1) (g) of the constitution to warrant the lawmakers from defecting and continuing to hold on to their seats, advising the affected Rep members to vacate their seats as they lacked the moral justification to remain in the green chambers having dumped the party that sponsored them there in the first place.