The Abia State House of Assembly on Friday passed a resolution, suspending the state’s Chief Judge, Justice Theresa Uzokwe, following a public petition brought before the House against her by a civil society organisation, Global Centre for Peace and Justice.
The petition alleged tyranny and obstruction of administration of justice in the state, gross misconduct, denigration of the office of the chief judge, and embezzlement, among others.
The petition was dated January 22 and captioned: “Justice Theresa Uzokwe’s unending acts of tyranny, infamy, gross misconduct and incompetence: Urgent need to save the administration of justice in Abia.”
The petition was jointly signed by the Executive Director, Dr. Anthony Agbazuere, and Director, Legal Services, Mr. Obinna Nkume, of the Global Centre for Peace and Justice, an Umuahia-based non-governmental organisation.
The petitioners also accused the CJ of acts of lawlessness and disrespect to state authorities, denigration of the office of the CJ, financial malfeasance and “morbid hatred for Abia and her citizens,” among others.
The member representing Ukwa West State Constituency, Mr.Tony Nwubani, cited the provision of Section 292 of the 1999 Constitution as amended which, according to him, empowers the house to investigate the allegations levelled against the CJ.
The member representing Isialangwa North, Chief Martins Azubuike, urged the house to be properly guided by section 36 of the Constitution, which provides for fair hearing, in handling the petition.
In a motion moved by the Deputy Majority Leader of the House, Chief Solomon Akpulonu, and seconded by the Minority Leader, Chief Abraham Oba, they urged the House to set up an ad hoc committee to investigate the allegations.
The motion also called for the suspension of the CJ and appointment of an acting CJ by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu.
While reading the resolution, the Speaker of the House, Mr. Chikwendu Kalu, however set up an eight-man ad hoc committee to investigate the allegations and report back to the House within seven days.
An Acting Chief Judge, Justice Obisike Orji, has been subsequently sworn-in to take over from Uzokwe.
Speaking at the swearing-in ceremony at the EXCO chambers of the Government House, Umuahia, Ikpeazu said that the swearing-in was in line with the constitution of the country, having received the resolution of the House.
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