…AS GOV PETITIONS NJC OVER JUDGE'S CONDUCT
Governor Sullivan Iheanacho Chime of Enugu State has petitioned the Chairman of the National Judicial Council (NJC) over the conduct of Justice Glays K. Olotu of the Federal High Court, Abuja. The judge is handling a pre-election suit instituted by one of the Peoples Democratic Party's governorship aspirants, Chief Alexander Obiechina.
The plaintiff had gone to court to seek the nullification of the primary election of January 12, 2011, which produced Chime as PDP's candidate for the governorship polls which he won recently. In the petition dated April 28, 2011, the governor accused the presiding judge of several judicial breaches, all geared toward stopping him from participating in the said election. The matter comes up tomorrow in Abuja.
Chime also expressed grave concern over the breaches and Justice Olotu's widely-known close ties with the Nwodo family with whom he had been engaged in bitter political battles of recent. Chime and the Nwodos had been locked in fierce political battles after the former had backed Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo for the national chairmanship of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The two men later fell apart over the struggle for the soul of the party in the state. Nwodo eventually was forced to resign his position over what the party described as 'unwholesome' events during the party's national convention in Abuja.
The Governor highlighted the particulars of the breach and the brazen denial of fair hearing to include an ex-parte order made by Justice Olotu abridging the time within which he was to respond to the suit from the 30 days allowed by Order 7 Rule 1 (1) of the Federal High Court (civil procedure) Rules to seven days. Both the governor and the PDP, according to the petition, subsequently filed separate motions on notice, praying the court to discharge the ex-parte order, even as both also contended that there was no urgency in the matter which warranted the making of the said order for abridgment of time 'as the plaintiff had slept on his rights since the conclusion of the primary election which formed the basis of his action in court, on 12 January, 2011 until a few days to the general election, before he brought his suit on 1 April, 2011.'
Another complaint by the petitioner was that when his counsel, Chief (Mrs.) A.J. Offih (SAN) informed the judge on April 21, 2011 that she was yet to be served with both INEC's written address and PDP's motion on notice which also prayed the court to set aside or discharge its ex-parte order abridging its response time from 30 days to seven days, Justice Olotu 'curiously ordered that the first defendant's (INEC's) written address and the second defendant's (PDP's) motion be served on my counsel in court, and further abridged the time I had to respond to the processes from seven days (as earlier abridged) to one and half hours, and fixed the matter for hearing at 4p.m.'