The Benin branch of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Alfred Eghobamien, have dragged Edo State Government before a Federal High Court sitting in Benin over its scrapping of the Customary Court of Appeal in the state.
Governor Adams Oshiomhole had, while addressing newsmen on Tuesday at the end of the State Executive Council meeting, announced the scrapping of the state Customary Court of Appeal with the transfer of the judges to Edo State High Court.
The plaintiffs in the case are Princess Iyomon (Chairman of the NBA, Benin branch), David Maduku, (Secretary, NBA Benin branch) and Chief Eghobamien, SAN.
Defendants in the suit are Governor Oshiomhole, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Edo State, Edo State House of Assembly, Edo State Judicial Service Commission and the National Judicial Council, NJC.
The plaintiffs are praying the court to declare that the scrapping or abolishing of the Customary Court of Appeal in Edo State was unconstitutional, invalid, null and void and of no effect, insisting that the Edo State House of Assembly cannot scrap or abolish the court without prior approval or consent of NJC.
They want the court to declare that having regard to the provisions of Section 28 (1) – 4 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, the prior consent and approval of the NJC must be sought and obtained before any valid abolition of the Customary Court of Appeal of Edo State can be effected.
The plaintiffs also want the court to declare that the purported abolition of the Customary Court of Appeal in Edo State, without the prior consent and approval of the NJC was unconstitutional, invalid, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.
They also want a declaration of the court that the judges of the Edo State Customary Court of Appeal are not co-terminus with the judges of Edo State High Court.
They, therefore, want the court to restrain the defendants from interfering or intermeddling with the day to day running of the Customary Court of Appeal in Edo State, pursuant to the hastily passed law by the 3rd defendant.