Groups Petition CJN Ariwoola over Alleged Forgery by Kebbi Chief Judge for Confirmation
The National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, and the Human Rights and Social Justice Organization, have accused the Acting Chief Judge of Kebbi State, Hon. Justice Umar Abubakar, of forging documents to facilitate his confirmation as the substantive Chief Judge of the State....CONTINUE READING
PRNigeria gathered that the Human Rights and Social Justice Organization, a civil society body, had forwarded a petition signed by one Saeed Bin Usman, its National Chairman, to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Kayode Ariwoola, dated 20th July 2023, and titled, “PETITION AGAINST THE ACTING CHIEF JUDGE OF KEBBI STATE, HON. JUSTICE UMAR ABUBAKAR FOR FABRICATING DOCUMENTS IN DESPERATE ATTEMPT TO SECURE CONFIRMATION FOR THE OFFICE OF A CHIEF JUDGE, KEBBI STATE OF NIGERIA”.
NANS, on its part, also forwarded a petition on Wednesday to Justice Ariwoola, titled, “COMPLAINT AGAINST THE ACTING CHIEF JUDGE OF KEBBI STATE, HON. JUSTICE UMAR ABUBAKAR FOR FABRICATING DOCUMENTS IN DESPERATE ATTEMPT TO SECURE CONFIRMATION FOR THE OFFICE OF A CHIEF JUDGE, KEBBI STATE OF NIGERIA”, PRNigeria also learnt.
The NANS’ petition was signed by Comrade Usman Kankiya, the union’s National Secretary General.
According to the CSO and students’ body, there have been some negative and disgraceful developments capable of destroying the independence of the judiciary, as the tussle for seniority of Judges of the Kebbi State High Court continues between Justice Umar Abubakar and Justice Abbas Ahman.
In the best interest of Nigeria, Nigerians, and Nigerian Students, the two groups observed that they wrote to respectfully draw Justice Ariwoola’s attention to a potential constitutional crisis in the Kebbi State High Court that may affect the reputation and integrity of the Chief Justice of Nigeria’s office, the National Judicial Council and the independence of the judiciary in general.
Part of their petitions, which appear strikingly alike, reads: “In 2019, when Justice M.S Ambursa assumed office as Acting Chief Judge of Kebbi State, he demoted Justice Abbas Ahman from No. 3 to No. 4 and elevated Justice Umar Abubakar from No. 4 to No. 3 claiming that it is the Governor that determines Order of Seniority of Judges not the National Judicial Council (NJC). Aggrieved by this unconstitutional action, Justice Abbas Ahman wrote a petition to the NJC for its intervention as the governing body of the judiciary by virtue of paragraph 21 (i) of part I of the 3rd Schedule to the 1999 Constitution. The petition was swept under the carpet until when you came to the office as the Chief Justice of Nigeria.
“A Committee was set up by the Chief Justice of Nigeria to assess the merit or otherwise of the petition. At the sitting of the Committee, Justice Umar Abubakar submitted that it is the Governor that determines seniority of judges of the High Court of Kebbi State by virtue of section 10 (4) of the High Court Law of Kebbi State, 1996. In proving his claim, he presented a forged document purported to be an Official Gazette of the Kebbi State Government wherein the then Governor of Kebbi State, Senator Adamu Aleiro allegedly declared Justice Umar Abubakar the senior over Justice Abbas Ahman.
“The information about the forgery of the Gazette was disclosed by an insider who is ready to appear before any committee or NJC to testify. The insider has revealed that Justice Umar Abubakar invited his course-mate, who was the former Solicitor General of the Ministry of Justice to manufacture the Gazette a day before Justice Umar Abubakar appeared before the NJC Committee on the 8th June, 2023. The copy of the unsigned gazette was inserted into the archives of the Ministry of Justice to create impression that the gazette exists. The forged gazette is not based on any memo from the Governor or a legal notice.
“After thorough investigation, it was discovered that the gazette was fabricated. On the other side, Justice Abbas Ahman submitted to the Committee that seniority of judges in Kebbi state is not determined by the Governor because that would jeopardize the independence of the judiciary. He further submitted that by virtue of section 158 of the 1999 Constitution, the NJC is empowered to regulate the affairs of judicial officers including appointment, promotion and discipline. Justice Abbas Ahman informed the committee that he was called to the bar in 1984 while Justice Umar Abubakar was called in 1991 and they were appointed as Judges same day, and that the oath office was administered to them collectively….CONTINUE READING
“Few weeks after the meeting of the NJC Committee, Justice Umar Abubakar released to the public an unsigned and undated document purported to be the report of the NJC Committee adopting his submission that it is the Governor that determines seniority of judges in Kebbi State and not the NJC relaying on Section 10 (4) of the High Court Law, Kebbi State, 1996 ignoring very important issues which include:
a. the long established policy of the NJC that when two Judges are appointed and sworn in the same date, what determines order of seniority is date of call to bar.
b. the warning issued by the NJC to Justice M.S Ambursa and Justice Umar Abubakar in 2014 for involving the Governor stating that he is the one that determines seniority of Judges.
c. that the NJC in its meeting held on the 27th May, 2014 directed the then Chief Judge of Kebbi State to amend the order of seniority of Judges of Kebbi State in accordance with year of call to the bar two or more judges are appointed the same day. And the then chief judge has amended the order of seniority and submitted same to the NJC.
d. that the 1999 Constitution which created the NJC and empowered it to regulate the affairs of the Judiciary supersedes the provision of section 10 of the High Court law of Kebbi State, 1996.