Imo CJ Appointment: Court strikes out suit against NJC
By Olalekan Awojodu
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has strike out a suit instituted against the National Judicial Council NJC and Imo state governor, Chief Hope Uzodimma.
In the suit, the Plaintiff challenged the suitability of Justice Ijeoma Agugua who was made the substantive Chief Judge of Imo State.
The court action was instituted by Hon Justin Brown Amadi who claimed to be a tax payer.
Meanwhile, while giving his verdict on the matter, Justice Inyang Eden Ekwo held that the action was taken on the ground that the plaintiff has no locus standi to file the suit.
Amadi had joined Imo State Judicial Commission, Imo State governor, Imo State Attorney General, Imo State House of Assembly and Justice Ijeoma Agugua as other defendants in the matter.
Plaintiff asked the court to consider whether NJC can recommend a suitable person for appointment as Chief Judge for Imo State in view of the provision of section 158 of the 1999 constitution.
He applied for court order to restrain the NJC from from recommending the Judge as the substantive Chief Judge for Imo state.
Among other things, Amadi predicated his opposition to Justice Agugua to the fact that he had written a petition against her and that the petition had not been considered by the NJC.
Plaintiff claimed that his fundamental right to fair hearing will be breached if Justice Agugua is made the substantive Chief Judge without first hearing his petition.
However the defendants filed separate preliminary objections against the suit to query the legal right of the plaintiff in the Chief Judge appointment.
They contended that being a mere tax payer in Imo state cannot confer legal right to Amadi to hold governor Uzodimma and institutions to ransom in the discharge of their judicial and legitimate official function.
Justice Ekwo in his judgment agreed that Amadi completely lacked legal right to maintain such a suit before a court of record.
The Judge said that plaintiff failed woefully to show how his legal right will be endangered or jeopardised if the defendants are allowed to perform their duties.
Specifically Justice Ekwo said that the plaintiff did not show how his personal right override those of the entire people of Imo state adding that his mere being a tax payer was not enough to institute such an action.
The Judge even faulted his claim of tax payment on the ground that he did not attach any documentary evidence but left the court to assume.
“In a suit of this nature plaintiff must establish that his personal interest and legal right are real and tangible in law and not personal aggrandisement as done in this matter.
“From the totality of the case of the plaintiff, he acted in bad faith with utter malice. He embarked on adventures without a cause. His case is simply mischievous,”. the Judge held.
Justice Ekwo disagreed with Amadi that his right to fair hearing will be breached unless his petition against Justice Agugua is treated first by the NJC .
According to the Judge the NJC is not bound by any law to treat the petition but can only use discretion on such a petition.
“To allow the plaintiff to go ahead with this kind of suit will amount to an individual holding a statutory body into ransom.
“This case is liable to be struck out and I hereby accordingly strike it out for lacking in merit and substance. “
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