Alleged Misconduct: Activists Sues Governor Alia, Assembly over failure to investigate Chief Judge

As repeated efforts by Civil Society Organisations and other interests groups in Benue State to compel the state government to investigate the Chief Judge, Justice Maurice Ikpambwase over allegations of gross misconduct have failed to yield results, Optimum Media Limited, has taken the Executive Governor of Benue State, the Attorney General of Benue State, the Speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly, and the Benue State House of Assembly to court.

The case which is currently pending before the Federal High Court of Nigeria in the Makurdi Judicial Division, holden at Makurdi with suit number FHC/MKD/CS/56/2024 has been fixed for hearing on the 2nd of July, 2024.

Justice Maurice Ikpambwase, the current Chief Judge of Benue State has been variously immersed in scandals and allegations ranging from nepotism, bribery and corruption, money laundering, interference in judicial processes and other unwholesome acts that are in conflict with the legal profession and his exulted position as a Chief Judge.

From acknowledged and stamped court documents seen by our correspondent, the plaintiff is seeking amongst other things, an order of mandamus to compel the defendants to investigate the Chief Judge of Benue State, Hon. Justice Maurice Ikpambese, over allegations of judicial misconduct, abuse of office, gross disobedience to a valid court judgment, and financial mismanagement.

In the said court documents, the plaintiff’s lead counsel, Uwem U. Umoanwan, Esq., argued that the application is brought pursuant to Section 14(1) (2) and (3) of the Federal High Court Act 2009, Section 293, 36 (1), 6 (6) (A & B) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), Order 34 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2019, and under the inherent jurisdiction of the honorable court.

The plaintiff, therefore, prayed the Honourable Court for “an order compelling/mandating the Executive Governor of Benue State to request an investigation on the Chief Judge of Benue State on the allegation of judicial misconduct, abuse of office, gross disobedience to a valid Court judgement.

“An order compelling/mandating the 4th Defendant/Respondent (Benue State House of Assembly) to cause investigation on the Hon. Chief Judge of Benue State (Hon. Justice Maurice Ikpambese) on the allegation of judicial misconduct, gross disobedience to a valid Court judgment, abuse of judicial powers and financial mismanagement.

“And for such further order or other orders as this Honourable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstances of this case.”

Similarly, in a sworn affidavit deposed by Collins Obiora, the Managing Director of Optimum Media Ltd., the plaintiff averred that, “a petition was submitted to the National Judicial Council (NJC) of Nigeria dated 30th day of December 2023 on allegation bordering on judicial misconduct, gross disobedience to a valid court judgment abuse of powers and financial mismanagement.
The petition is hereby attached and marked as Exhibit “A”.

“That a petition was also served on the Executive Governor of Benue State by the Benue Diaspora Vanguard (U.S Chapter), against the Hon. Chief Judge of Benue State to call the Governor to investigate the allegations against the Chief Judge of Benue State but since then the executive governor has not taken any action in respect of the petition. The said letter dated 9th February 2024 is hereby attached and marked as Exhibit “B”.

“That since the 1st Defendant/Respondent received the letter dated the 9th February, 2024, mandating him to carry out his statutory duties but failed to do so, this Honourable Court has power to compel/mandate the 1st Defendant/Respondent (the Executive Governor of Benue State) to request an investigation against the Chief Judge of Benue State on the allegation of judicial misconduct, abuse of office, gross disobedience to a valid court judgment.

“That it will be in the overall interest of justice for this Honourable Court to grant this application, as same will not prejudiced the interest of the Respondents in any way.

Having met the requirements for the application, the plaintiff urged the Honourable Court “to grant the application and to compel the Executive Governor of Benue State, Attorney general of Benue state, and Speaker, Benue House of Assembly to request an investigation against the Chief Judge of Benue State on the allegation of abuse of office, gross disobedience to a valid Court order, abuse of judicial powers and financial mismanagement”, the statement concluded.


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