From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The National Judicial Council (NJC), has cleared Justice Okon Abang of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, of allegations of judicial misconduct levelled against him, in connection with a judgment delivered against the Senator Ahmed Makarfi faction of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The council, in a March 15, 2017 letter, signed by its Secretary, Mr. Danladi Halilu, said it found no merit in the petition against the judge.
The council said after deliberating on the petition at its meeting held on February 23, 2017, it found no merit in the petitions, adding that the council decided to dismiss the petitions after Justice Abang reacted to it.
Justice Abang had, on July 29, 2016, declared as illegal, the Ahmed Makarfi-led Caretaker Committee of the national leadership of the PDP.
The judge ruled that the Makarfi-faction was illegal because it was a product of the party’s convention which held on May 21 in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, in defiance of an earlier order of Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court, which had stopped the said convention from holding.
However, not too satisfied with the decision of the court, Senator Makarfi wrote a petition to the NJC dated August 25, 2016, accusing Justice Abang of assuming appellate powers to sit over the decision of the court of coordinate jurisdiction.
But, the NJC, in its letter with reference number NJC/ F.3/FHC 44/VII/55 stated: “At the end of deliberations, the council found that your petition finds no merit, as there was no sufficient material before the NJC to infer that the judge sat on appeal over the decision of his brother judge of coordinate jurisdiction.
“The appeal, therefore, lacked merit and is subsequently dismissed.”
In another development, the NJC also dismissed the petition dated November 7, 2016, by Heritage Bank PLC, against Justice Abang for lacking in merit.
The bank, in a petition against the judge accused him of improper judicial conduct and predisposed bias against Heritage Bank, in judicial proceedings before him.
But the NJC dismissed the petition for lack of merit.
Justice Abang had, on July 29, 2016 declared as illegal, the Ahmed Makarfi-led Caretaker Committee of the national leadership of the PDP. The court, in a ruling, held that every action the committee (PDP national chairman) had taken since it emerged through a convention the party purportedly held in Port Harcourt on May 21, amounted to nullity. The court also held that the Lagos Division of the court had also made orders on May 12 and 20, forbidding the PDP from removing the Sheriff-led Caretaker Committee. That order is still subsisting.
“Having regard to the order of the court, PDP had no lawful authority to hold the convention that led to the emergence of the Markafi-led committee. The convention was unlawfully held and the caretaker committee was unlawfully and illegally appointed…”