National Judicial Council, NJC, said yesterday that it had compulsorily retired a judge of the Cross River State High Court, Justice B.T. Ebuta.
The NJC’s Acting Director (Information), Mr. Soji Oye, said in a statement that the sanction was imposed on Ebuta partly because he made an order based on ex-parte application without sitting in court.
Oye said the NJC, under the chairmanship of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, recommended the compulsory retirement of the judge to the Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade, at its 76th meeting which held on June 1 and 2, 2016.
He stated that the NJC had placed Justice Ebuta on suspension from office with immediate effect pending the approval of the recommendation of the Council by the Governor of Cross River State.
Ebuta was said to have been sanctioned over the “the allegations of abuse of judicial power, suppression, illegal and forceful takeover of a property in Calabar as contained in the petition written against him by Dr. (Mrs) Ekanem Cobham.”
The order, which the judge allegedly made without sitting in court, was to unseal Cobham’s property which was sealed on the order of a Magistrate Court when her tenant, Mr. Ugochukwu Chijioke, failed to pay rent for two years.
The petitioner had alleged that she filed Suit No MC/RT/12/6/14 at the Magistrate Court, Calabar against her tenant for failing to pay her rent and judgement was delivered in her favour on November 10, 2014 to seal the property.
But the respondent (Chijioke) was said to have filed an ex-parte application in Suit No. MC/ MSC/143/2014 before the Magistrate Court to unseal the property without her knowledge and that the respondent’s counsel filed a similar application at the High Court.
She stated that on getting to the High Court, she discovered that the court did not sit, but still decided to apply and paid for the Certified True Copy of the purported record of the said proceedings during which the court claimed to have issued the order unsealing the property.
She stated that she was told by the court clerk that there was no sitting on that day as claimed by the judge.
She stated that her money was then returned to her and she reported the development to the Registrar of the Court.
The statement by the NJC read, “Council investigated the allegations and found out that they were all true.
“The allegation constitutes misconduct contrary to Section 292(1)(b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended and Rules 1.3 and 3.5 of the 2016 Revised Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“In the meantime, the National Judicial Council has in the exercise of its disciplinary powers under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, suspended Hon. Justice B. T. Ebuta from office with immediate effect pending the approval of the recommendation of the Council for His Lordship’s compulsory retirement by the Governor of Cross River State.”


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