The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, has accused Augusta Kingsley-Chukwu, a high court judge in Rivers state, of being biased.
Oshiomhole said Kingsley-Chukwu, who is presiding over some cases involving the APC in the state, has poor knowledge of the law and should be made to go on compulsory retirement.
The supreme court had nullified APC’s congresses in Rivers and this denied the party from participating in the 2019 general election.
The party, however, set up a caretaker committee, but court actions were instituted against it, and Kingsley-Chukwu granted an injunction restraining the APC and the caretaker committee from taking any further step.
In a petition to Ibrahim Muhammad, chief justice of Nigeria, Oshiomhole said Kingsley-Chukwu did not give the APC the required time to enter a defence.
“By the civil procedure rules of the Rivers state high court, the APC was entitled to 21 days within which to enter an appearance and file their necessary processes in defence,” Oshiomhole wrote in the petition.
“Curiously, it was brought to our attention that Hon. Justice Augusta U. Kingsley-Chukwu had abridged that time to 48 hours. Our curiosity was further heightened when we discovered that the husband of Hon. Justice Augusta U. Kingsley-Chukwu is a top leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who had previously contested for the position of chairman of Obio/Akpor local government area and currently serves as the legal adviser of the PDP in Rivers state.
“Expectedly, the APC had reasonable apprehension that Hon. Justice Augusta U. Kingsley-Chukwu may not be able to discharge her duties as a judicial officer objectively without interference.”
Oshiomhole said the party had also written to the Rivers chief judge to reassign the case to another judge, but Kingsley-Chukwu still proceeded to entertain the case.
He said he expected the judge to have followed the time-honoured tradition of judicial officers like Zainab Bulkachuwa, president of the court of appeal and Mary Odili, justice of the supreme court, who had recused themselves from adjudicating over cases that would likely impact on the political interest of their spouses.
“Disappointingly, Hon. Justice Augusta U. Kingsley-Chukwu proceeded to entertain the suit and granted an injunction restraining the APC,” he said.
“By reason of the above facts, we believe that the Hon. Justice Augusta U. Kingsley-Chukwu has broken the letters and spirit of the code of conduct for judicial officers and has engaged in acts unbecoming of a judicial officer.
“Equally, we believe that the action of the Hon. Justice Augusta U. Kingsley- Chukwu in granting orders which were not prayed by a party in such a contentious suit smacks of poor knowledge of the law, and such a judicial officer should be compulsorily retired and not allowed to continue to preside over the fate of members of the public Without the requisite knowledge of the law.”