Judge Withdraws from Edo APC Case Over Neutrality Petition
Justice Victor Oviawe of the State High Court 10 on Monday announced her withdrawal from the case involving the warring All Progressives Congress factions in the state.
The withdrawal followed a petition challenging her neutrality on the case.
When the case was mentioned before Justice Oviawe on Monday, she simply told the counsel for Ojezua, Ken Mozia, SAN, that there was a petition on the matter and that the file was with the chief judge of the state.
He advised the parties to agree on a date to appear before a new judge on the matter.
Although the new judge has not been made public, the transfer of the suit was sequel to a petition by Col. David Imuse (retd.), who has assumed the acting chairman position of the party in the state.
Imuse; Secretary of the party, Lawrence Okah, and others, in a petition to the chief judge and the National Judicial Council, urged Justice 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 Edo State, Hon. Justice Ikpomwen, had her retirement activities lined up, including the swearing-in of a new chief judge, interdenominational church service, valedictory session and reception”.
They averred that on the day in question the Nigerian Bar Association issued a circular to the effect that the courts would not sit to enable lawyers to attend the ceremonies. They therefore questioned how Ojezua and his group secured an interim order on that day.
“We challenge the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter for several reasons. The court refused to decline jurisdiction which led to our counsels filing an appeal against the ruling of the judge on 19th December, 2019.
“An appeal was entered in the Court of Appeal as No: CA/B/05/2020 but 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 our appeal,” they claimed, among others.