The Senator representing Akwa Ibom North East, Bassey Albert Akpan, has petitioned the National Judicial Council (NJC) seeking the probe of Justice Fatun Riman of the Federal High Court, Uyo, Akwa Ibom division over allegation of bias, judicial misconduct and arbitrariness.
Senator Akpan sought the NJC leave to mandate Justice Riman to excuse himself from further hearing the case involving him and Hon. Bassey Etim pending in the Federal High Court, Uyo Division.
Hon. Bassey Etim took Senator Akpan, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to court claiming that he was wrongly substituted in the primary election of PDP in Akwa Ibom State.
Akpan in his petition addressed to the Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman of the NJC accused Justice Riman of “bias, arbitrariness and unfairness” in his handling of the case.
Specifically, Senator Akpan noted that the petition to NJC was warranted by “the inauspicious ruling delivered by Justice Riman on 3rd November 2016 which artfully crafted in essence refused our application to amend our statement of defence in terms of our prayers and limited our right to amend to consequentially responding to the Plaintiff’s amended claim.”
He added, “Despite the fact that Justice Riman informed us on 3rd November 2016 after the delivery of the ruling that the said Ruling was ready for collection, His Lordship has refused to avail me a Certified True Copy of the Ruling.
“I’m by this petition respectfully calling on the Council to investigate Justice Riman in respect of these conducts which are unbecoming of a judicial officer and to humbly request that the council restrain him from continuing to handle this matter pending the determination of this petition.”
Akpan insisted in the petition that Riman’s conduct and handling of the case showed complete bias against him and his party the PDP.
He said, “The evidence of bias is amply reflected in and confirmed by his conflicting and unsupportable decisions and rulings against us as well as his refusal to release the certified true copies of the rulings and records of proceedings to me in spite of our having applied for same.
“There is also evidence of bias against me due to Justice Riman’s conduct of always giving undue advantage to the plaintiff by assisting and conducting the plaintiff’s case from the Bench under the guise of fast tracking the proceedings and in effect hamstringing me by refusing to release certified true copies of the rulings and records of proceedings.”
Akpan noted that the refusal of Justice Riman to release the certified true copies of the, “several adverse rulings and records of proceedings of the trial court, despite my applications has scuttled my right to study those rulings and make a decision on whether or not to appeal given gravity of this matter, thereby infringing my right to fair hearing and lends ample credence to my allegation of bias against Justice Riman.”
He added, “My party and I have again filed a Notice of Appeal to challenge the Ruling refusing us to fully amend our statement of defence and we are in the process of filing a motion for stay of proceedings.
“However, given the antecedent of Justice Riman and his handling of this case, I strongly believe he will refuse to grant the motion for stay regardless of his knowledge of the Appeal and this petition and in spite of his knowledge that I have written to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court to request that he be ordered to rescue himself from the case.
“I believe the Council should intervene and investigate Justice Riman’s conduct in this matter without prejudice to my application to the Chief Judge.”