Justice Evoh Chukwu of the Federal High Court in Abuja has recused himself from a suit instituted by a House of Representatives member, Hon. Abiodun Ishiaq Akinlade, seeking to compel the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, to vacate the seat following his defection from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The plaintiff is seeking an order declaring that Tambuwal’s deputy, Emeka Ihedioha, should take over the office of speaker.
The matter was consequently assigned to Justice Chukwu.
When the matter came up yesterday, the trial judge announced his withdrawal from the suit on the grounds that a petition had been written against him.
Tambuwal had written a petition to the National Judicial Council (NJC) dated November 30 challenging the assignment of the case to Chukwu.
He therefore requested the judge to disqualify himself from sitting over the suit because of likelihood of bias that could prevent him from getting justice.
The petition read in part: “My attention has been drawn to the above suit, which has been assigned to Court 8, presided over by Justice Chukwu, and we wish to make the following observations: “Sometime in 2013, the said presiding judge, Justice Chukwu presided over the case of PDP and 12 other vs INEC and 4 others, wherein he made a judicial pronouncement, which has been interpreted by some, to the effect that there was no division in PDP.
“The above decision of Justice Chukwu was heavily relied upon and cited severally in the case of the PDP, House of Representatives; the speaker of the House of Representatives and 52 others, suit No. FHC/ ABJ/CS/4/2014.
“Consequently, Justice A.F.A Ademola, relying on the said judgment of his brother Justice Chukwu, even though the said suit before him had nothing to do with defection, ruled that there was no division within the PDP.
“And as such, the defendants in that case, who are members of the House of Representatives, who have similar cases as mine, currently pending in the Federal High Court Abuja, were not protected by proviso to Section 68(1)(g) of the 1999 Constitution. He rested his decision on that earlier judgment of Justice Chukwu aforementioned.
“The said judgment of Justice Ademola is subject of four pending appeals at the Court of Appeal, Abuja Judicial Division.
“My lord, similar suits were variously instituted by various parties and are pending before the Federal High Court No. 7, presided over by Justice Mohammed and are at various stages of proceeding pending before Court 7, presided over by Justice Mohammed.”
Tambuwal further stated that he did not have confidence that Justice Chukwu would be able to dispense justice in the case as he had earlier “made a pronouncement on similar issues, in similar cases, decided by him, clearly shows that he has an iron cast judicial position or opinion in respect of suit no. FHC/ABJ/ CS/871/2014 concerning me sir which has just been assigned to him.”
The speaker however urged the Chief Judge to re-assign the suit to “a neutral judge who has not made any judicial pronouncement on the issue or made public his own opinion on the issue at hand.”