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36 Defecting APC Lawmakers Petition NJC Over Judge's Alleged Misconduct

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BEVERLY HILLS, CA, May 28, (THEWILL) â€'  The thirty-six former members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the House of Representatives, who defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC) on December 18, 2013 have submitted a petition to the National Judicial Council (NJC) against Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court, Abuja .

A copy of the petition obtained by THEWILL indicated that the document signed by the affected 36 APC members of the House was submitted to NJC on May 13 .

Justice Ademola was dragged before NJC by the 36 lawmakers for alleged acts of judicial misconduct while adjudicating on suit, FHC/ABJ/CS/4/2014 filed by PDP to challenge the defection of its former members in the House of Representatives.

It would be recalled that Justice Adeniyi Ademola, in his judgment on March 31 in a suit filed by the PDP after the defection of it slawmakers, which initially gave the APC a majority in the House of Representatives, declared that the defected legislators were not competent to sponsor, contribute or vote on any motion calling for a change in the leadership of the House. The judge also averred that there was no division within the ranks of PDP according to Section 68 (1) (g) of the constitution to warrant the lawmakers from defecting and continuing to hold on to their seats.

The petition listed the five grounds of alleged misconduct against Justice Ademola to include overruling superior courts in issuing preservatory order while jurisdiction was being challenged; pronouncements on the substantive suit â€' concerning vacation of members' seats â€' before another judge and not before Justice Ademola; and that Justice Ademola was serially being controversial with questionable motive and faulty prayers.

The 36 lawmakers expressed suspicion that Justice Ademola granted 'the application for injunction as made by the PDP when in fact there were preliminary objections against the jurisdiction of the court.'

The petitioners claimed that the suit only sought to stop members of the House of Representatives who defected from PDP to APC from changing leadership of the House and expressed surprise that the judge veered off to cases not canvassed before him and became more political than the plaintiff (PDP).

'In principle, judges must not ordinarily fiddle suo motu into matters not canvassed before them. However, because this judge was so ready to rule against the defendants for reasons best known to him, he became even more political than the plaintiff. The plaintiff nowhere sought for a relief under S. 68 (1) (g) of the constitution. Indeed, their lawyer, Yunus Usman (SAN), in open court, said the matter had nothing to do with S. 68 (1) (g) of the constitution', the lawmakers said.

The petitioners also said as contained in the petition notwithstanding that all leaders of the House were sued as defendants,

'All the defendants to the suit, including those who belong to PDP filed preliminary objections to the jurisdiction of Justice Ademola on various grounds, amongst which were issue of non-justifiability of the case.'

They maintained that: 'All lawyers to the defendants addressed the court that since the preliminary objections were challenging the jurisdiction of the judge, it must be ruled first and that the judge could not as yet issue any preservatory orders.'

They added that 'The judge (Justice Ademola) after long hours of argument, though agreeing with the positions taken by the defence (House Leadership), decided to make orders that the status quo be maintained and that leadership should not be changed until the determination of the main case.'

Stunned by the judgment of Justice Ademola on March 31, the APC lawmakers further said: 'How would a judge rule that a political party has locus to stop a legislative House from carrying out its internal affairs; that a legislative House would be restrained perpetually from voting somehow or from changing its leadership..'

The APC lawmakers in their eight-page petition to NJC urged the council to investigate Justice Ademola in bid to cleanse the judiciary.

They also stated that they 'owe it a duty to the Nigerian judiciary and the state to report what we consider as travesty of justice occasioned by a judge whose disposition from the onset of the case showed undiluted bias.'

The lawmakers concluded that 'the judgment of Justice Ademola and orders he made and the passing comments were clearly politically motivated and did not demonstrate legal jurisprudential erudition.'