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Judges, lawyers violating territorial jurisdiction, challenging S’ Court ruling must be sanctioned  – NBA-SPIDEL

Chairman of the NBA Section of Public Interest and Development Law (SPIDEL), Dr. Monday Ubani, has aligned with the view of Justice Chioma Nwosu-Iheme of the Court of Appeal, Awkain, Anambra State, calling for sanction against judges and lawyers that abuse territorial jurisdiction to dabble into political matters.

Justice Nwosu-Iheme had criticised two State High Court Judges in Jigawa and Imo for allowing lawyers to use their courts for what is known in legal circles as forum shopping.

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The NBA SPIDEL chairman has in a statement in Lagos signed by Joseph Igwe of Ubani and Co supported Justice Iheoma-Nwosu’s stance, insisting that both judges should be brought before the National Judicial Council (NJC) to show cause why they should not be disciplined for professional misconduct over their involvement in the Anambra State governorship dispute as regards the leadership of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), especially as it pertains to the party’s candidate in the November 6 gubernatorial election in the state.

According to Ubani, the legal practitioners, especially the Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANS), who brought the cases before the two judges in Imo and Jigawa states should be sanctioned for professional misconduct.

The Court of Appeal in Awka and the Anambra State High Court in Awka had issued orders to the National Electoral Commission (INEC) to recognise Soludo as the APGA candidate based on his winning almost 94% of the votes at the party’s congress of June 23, but the State High Court at Birnin Kudu, Jigawa State, a court of equal jurisdiction, on June 30 gave a declaratory judgment directing the electoral commission to accept Chukwuma Umeoji, who had earlier in the month been disqualified from the primary election by the APGA Screening Committee, as the party’s candidate.

The Imo State High Court was to issue a similar order on July 30, even without hearing from the APGA chairman recognised by INEC, as the Jigawa court did.

The statement read in part: “We insist that disciplinary measures, as recommended by Her Lordship, be commenced by the authorities in the NBA and the NJC to act as a check to the incessant embarrassment the legal profession is currently facing in all spheres, and caused by those who are supposed to know and observe the ethics of the profession, whether at the Bar or on the Bench.

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“Every electoral season is usually hot in Anambra State with bizarre happenings.”

Ubani also condemned the unacceptable action of some lawyers and judges meddling in matters already decided by the apex court

“There are reported instances where parties in cases already decided by the Supreme Court have re-approached the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, to set aside its own decisions,” it said, describing the refusal of lawyers, including SANs, to such politicians to advise their clients properly as “shocking and increasingly disgusting, with the resultant effect of cases of a more bizarre nature being filed regularly with impunity by this category of lawyers.”

Commending Justice Nwosu-Iheme for upholding the public good with her pronouncement on forum shopping by lawyers, the NBA SPIDEL chairman said, “We can heave a sigh of relief, knowing full well that there are still persons in Nigeria that can stand and speak truth to power.”