The acting Chief Judge of Kebbi State, Esther Asabe Karatu, has written a petition to the National Judicial Council over Governor Atiku Bagudu’s alleged refusal to confirm her as substantive chief judge of the state.
In the petition obtained by Daily Nigerian, the acting chief judge said politics of religion and her firm belief in justice and fairness were some of the reasons the state governor denied her rights despite the recommendation of NJC.
On January 17, 2019, the Kebbi State House of Assembly also confirmed Mrs Karatu as substantive chief judge of the state, but the governor refused to act on the assembly’s confirmation.
In a letter to the governor, referenced KBHA/LEG/001/XI and entitled RE: APPOINTMENT AND REQUEST FOR CONFIRMATION OF JUSTICE ELIZABETH ASABE KARATU AS CHIEF JUDGE OF KEBBI STATE, the speaker of the state House of Assembly Abdulmumini Kamba conveyed the Assembly’s approval.
“Reference to your submission dated, 6th November, 2018, I am glad to inform you that at an Executive Session held on Thursday, 17th January, 2019, the Hon. House resolved and confirmed Justice Elizabeth Asabe Karatu as the Chief Judge of Kebbi State,” the three-paragraph letter read in part.
Mrs Karatu, who is due to retire on July 5, 2019, was also denied right to swear-in the governor on May 29, 2019, a duty the Grand Khadi of the state, Muhtar Imam Jega.
But the Secretary to the Kebbi State Government, Babale Yauri, said the refusal of the governor to confirm Mrs Karatu as substantive chief justice was not because of her religion.
“The State Assembly did not screen her because of some discrepancies in her credentials. It was not the governor’s fault, and his action has nothing to do with religion,” he said.
According to the SSG, the letter purportedly sent to the governor by the State Assembly is fake as it was not duly signed.
But in the petition Mrs Karatu wrote to NJC, the judge also made case against the appointment of Justice Mohammed Sulaiman Ambursa to replace her for allegedly being corrupt and friends with politicians.
“The practice in the judiciary is that when judges are to be sworn into office, the one who was first called to bar would be sworn in first and thus he becomes the senior. However, in our case, Justice Ambursa was sworn in first even though I was called to the bar 6 years before him. I was called to the bar in 1980 while Justice Ambursa was called in 1986.