… Urges NJC to invite them for serious questioning 

As national attention turns in the direction of the judiciary and Nigerians express serious doubts about the future, the All Progressives Congress has released the names of judges in the Rivers Judiciary which it claims are apparently  being used to issue ‘black market’ injunctions against it.

They are Justice Opufa Ben-Whyte, Justice Okogbule Gbasam, Justice Chiwendu Wogu and Justice Fiberesima.

The APC said in a statement issued in Port Harcourt that the actions of these judges have largely contributed to “the wrong impression across the country that the Rivers Judiciary has become a notorious trading post where judicial decisions are bought and sold.”

The APC disclosed that it  has petitioned the aforementioned judges who are debasing the integrity of the Rivers Judiciary to the National Judicial Council, NJC.

“We had earlier promised that we would release the names of judges who are toying with the law,  and incessantly betraying the oath of office that they swore to uphold.

“These judges appointed by the present administration, who in many instances have allowed themselves to descend into the arena of justice, are Justice Opufa Ben-Whyte, Justice Okogbule Gbasam, Justice Chiwendu Wogu, Justice Fiberesima and one other.

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“Accordingly, the APC has petitioned these judges who are young on the Bench, but who appear to be acting a script, to the NJC. We urge the NJC to invite these judges for questioning without any further delay.”

Stressing that there has been an unusual level of judicial abuses, the APC noted, “We are not the only State in the federation which has inscribed clauses on injunctions in its statute books.

“To the best of our knowledge judges have been repeatedly advised by higher authorities to exercise discretion in issuing such interim orders.

“We are dismayed that the heads of courts in some states, including that of Rivers State, have been summoned as a result of the activities of such judges.”

The statement signed by the Rivers APC Spokesman, Chief Ogbonna Nwuke  came down hard on judges who are bringing the integrity of the judiciary to serious disrepute.

“These judges are truly the ones who should have been invited to face the NJC.

“Against this backdrop, we urge the NJC which is appalled by the conduct of some judges across the land to invite these justices in Rivers State to answer for their infamous deeds.

“In the same manner, we also urge the Rivers Chief Judge who may not have a hand, given the independence that judges enjoy, to put his foot down and ensure that erring judges who have the penchant for issuing ‘bread and butter’ decisions are not allowed to do so at the risk of the reputable image of the entire judiciary.

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“Similarly, we have noticed that apart from granting injunctions, these judges now resort to a new tactic of ordering the maintenence of what they consider the status quo.

“Our position is that such orders emanating from the judges under reference, which order parties that appear before them to maintain status quo, is an indirect way of issuing a restraining injunction without actually saying so.

“While we further commend the Chief Justice of Nigeria and the Nigerian Bar Association for what they are doing, we believe that their effort to cleanse the Augean stable should be extended to Rivers State.”

There are approximately 27 judges serving in the Rivers Judiciary, most of them senior and experienced on the bench.

However, a handful of judges appointed by the Wike administration have usually been drafted to handle politically inspired cases that senior judges in the system are refusing.

Recent events  that are playing out in the PDP show how desperately politicians are determined to manipulate the judiciary in order to satisfy narrow, parochial interests in the quest for power.