The National Judicial Council, NJC, has given its nod for an investigation into a petition filed by the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, in Zamfara State, Alhaji Sani Shinkafi.
The petition, which was received by the office of the Chief Justice of Nigeria on February 26, alleged that a Zamfara State High Court Judge engaged in “gross abuse of office and judicial rascality”, when he presided over a political case marked ZMS/GS/52/2018, pertaining to the March 9 governorship election.
According to the petition before the council, Justice Bello Muhammed Shinkafi, spurned the judicial hierarchy, by going ahead to deliver judgment on a matter that was pending before the Sokoto State Division of the Court of Appeal.
The APGA flag-bearer alleged that the high court judge took the action after he was notified that the appellate court was already seized of the facts of the case, thereby violating his right to fair hearing as enshrined under section 36 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
The petition, copies of which were also sent to the Chief Judge of Zamfara State and Chairman of the Zamfara State Judicial Service Commission, read: “Please, refer to the above subject matters.
“ I am the Zamfara State Gubernatorial Candidate of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) for the 2019 general election.
“I applied to be joined as an interested party in the above named case before Hon. Justice Belto Muhammed Shinkaft of Zamfara State High Court No 3.
However, in a ruling, the said Judge refused my application and I then headed to the Court of Appeal, Sokoto Division.
“To ensure all court process and procedures were made in order and never take chance, my counsel had also filed a motion for stay of proceedings pending Appeal before the High Court (copy attached). It is highly disturbing to have imagined how Justice Belle would go ahead to deliver judgment despite my appeal pending before Court of Appeal.
“Sir, Judiciary and all Stakeholders in the administration of Justice are known to be ethical, professional and disciplined. Regards and respect for seniority is an already established decorum that was never challenged, especially among judges, let alone of a case like this where the hierarchy of the two Courts in question were defined by the Constitution.
“My lords, l have considered with greatest dismay the action of Justice Bello as unethical and unprofessional. It speaks volume of his unpreparedness to strict adherence to the rule of law and an already established Court process and procedures.
“The tendency of Justice Bello’s complexity and complication in the instant case is glaring, point to the fact that, he has been a High Court Judge for good number of years and serves as Judiciary Staff throughout his career. He could not have claimed mistake or ignorance of the fact that where there is an interlocutory appeal against the ruling of a particular Court, the lower Court, should be estopped from delivering a judgment come what may until the Appeal Court gives its verdict on the interlocutory issue before it’’.