The All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday petitioned the National Judicial Council (NJC) alleging that Justice Augusta Kingsley-Chukwu is working with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to turn Rivers State into a one party state.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Lanre Issa-Onilu, the party stressed that it could no longer watch the continued abuse of judicial powers in Rivers State.
Urging the NJC to wade into the issue in the interest of its supporters in Rivers State, it urged the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Tanko Mohammed to caution judicial officers in Rivers State to remain non-partisan in the discharge of their duties.
“On September 6, 2019 the APC set up a caretaker committee to pilot the affairs of the party in Rivers State. It also scheduled its congresses to elect executives at all levels.
But one Ibrahim Umah immediately instituted a court action at the Rivers State High Court challenging APC’s proposed congresses and obtained an interim injunction restraining it from conducting the congresses.
“The APC objected to the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit and on December 18, 2019, the court struck out the suit for lack of jurisdiction, thereby allowing the APC to proceed with its restrategising process and conduct of congresses.
“Before the court struck out the case, one Igo Aguma filed a similar suit against the APC challenging the composition of the caretaker committee. The suit was filed on 16th December 16, 2019 and assigned to Justice Kingsley-Chukwu.
“The APC was entitled to 21 days within which to file a defence to the suit, but curiously, it was brought to our attention that Justice Kingsley-Chukwu had abridged the time to 48 hours.
“Our curiosity was heightened when we discovered that the husband of Justice Augusta Kingsley-Chukwu is a PDP leader who had previously contested the position of Chairman of Obio/Akpor Council area and currently serves as the legal adviser of the PDP in the State,” the statement reads.
It further expressed concern that the PDP, being the ultimate beneficiary of APC’s inability to elect its state executive over a year due to judicial restrictions, deployed litigants and judicial staff to aid their interference in APC’s affairs.
“They got minions to institute frivolous suits and ensure that the suit is assigned to Justice Kingsley-Chukwu, who is wife of a PDP leader in Rivers State.
“Expectedly, the APC had reasonable apprehension that Justice Kingsley-Chukwu is incapable of discharge her duties as a judicial officer objectively without interference.
“This led the APC to petition the Chief Judge of Rivers State requesting the reassignment of the suit to another judge of the state High Court for adjudication. This petition was endorsed to Justice Kingsley-Chukwu,” the statement added.