Edo State Chief Judge, Justice Esther Edigin, has re-assigned a suit involving Anselm Ojezua, who is challenging his removal as the chairman of the Edo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress, following a petition alleging bias against the trial Judge, Justice V. O. Oviawe.
The transfer of the suit was sequel to a petition by Col. David Imuse (rtd), who has assumed the acting chairmanship position of the party in the state in the Suit No B/177/os/19.
When the case was mentioned yesterday, Justice V.O. Oviawe told counsel to Ojezua, Ken Mozia, SAN, that there is a petition on the matter and that the file is with the Chief Judge of the state and advised the parties to agree on a date and appear before a new judge on the matter, even as the identity of the new Judge the case was assigned to was not mThe Imuse, Secretary of the party, Lawrence Okah, and others in a petition to the Chief Judge which was copied the National Judicial Council, had requested Hon.Justice V.O. Oviawe to disqualify himself from further presiding over proceedings or delivering any ruling in the suit.
In a Motion on Notice filed on 16th January, 2020 by their counsel, they accused the judge of being biased against them.
In the Affidavit in support of their application made by their Counsel, they alleged that the Judge had a special interest in the matter having granted an interim order on 22nd November, 2019 when the former Chief Judge of the state, Hon. Justice Ikpomwen, had her retirement activities lined up, including swearing-in of a new Chief Judge, interdenominational church service, valedictory session and reception.
They said on the day in question the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) issued a circular to the effect that the courts would not sit to enable lawyers attend the ceremonies. They, therefore, questioned how Ojezua and his group secured an interim order on that day.
They stated in the Affidavit that they challenged the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter for several reasons but that the court refused to decline jurisdiction which led to their Counsel filing an appeal against the Ruling of the Judge on 19th December, 2019.
The Applicants explained that an Appeal was entered in the Court of Appeal as No: CA/B/05/2020 but that in spite of transmitting records to the Court of Appeal, the judge insisted on continuing with the hearing of the matter to the detriment of their Appeal and against Order 4 Rule 11 of the Court of Appeal Rules, 2016 which they said forbids a trial court from continuing with the hearing of a matter, which record of appeal has been fully compiled and transmitted to the Court of Appeal.
Besides, they said when the matter came up on 13th January, 2020, the judge instead of adjourning the matter indefinitely till the outcome of the appeal, insisted on hearing the motion for Interlocutory injunction filed by Ojezua’s Counsel.