Joe Effiong, Uyo
The Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State, Justice Godwin Abraham has disqualified himself from presiding over a case brought against him bordering on allegation of his being too old to continue to work as judge in the state judiciary.
Mrs Imaobong Michael Ekpombuk and Miss Cornelia Effiong Elijah, who were defendants in case with suit No: Hu/LA.1/2018 filed before Abraham had turned round to ask for a court declaration that Abraham, having hit the age bar of 65 years, according to the provisions of the law, was no longer competent to sit and adjudicate on their case.
According to the brief filed by their counsel, Mr Ekpenyong Ntekim, the applicants said by virtue of his office as the chief judge of the state, Abraham exercises enormous power and performs several quasi-judicial functions and administrative functions as touching and concerning matters filled in the state High Court, including the power to chair and appoint a minimum of seven of the eight members of the High Court rules committee to regulate the procedure of all civil matters, among others
They said based on their calculation, Abraham born on 29th June, 1954, according evidential documents, should have since 28th June 2019, retired from service as a chief judge of Akwa Ibom State or a judge of any state judiciary in the country.
“He was by simple calculation. 65 years in June 2019; and that is the maximum number of years any person in his position as a judicial officer should hold office either as a judge or the chief judge of the high court of Akwa Ibom State.
“It is in the interest of all the parties in this matter (and the High Court of Akwa Ibom State generally) that this application be heard and determined. It will save everyone, especially all parties herein cost of expensive litigation in the event of the My Lord, the Chief Judge, being past his retirement age and is still authorities aforementioned.”
When the case came up for hearing on Wednesday, in High Court 1, Uyo, presided over by Abraham, he summarily transferred the case to High Court 3, since he could not be a judge in his own case.
No date has been fixed for the continuation of the case, even as the originating case of which the applicants were sued remains pending at Court 1 before the Chief Judge,.