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Group wants NBA to Discipline Lawyers for Infamous Conduct Against Ikpambese, NJC

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From Msurshima Andrew, Makurdi

A group under the auspices of Benue Arise Network, (BAN), is calling on the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to sanction some lawyers for seeking court orders for seeking the investigation of the Chief Judge of Benue State, Justice Maurice Ikpambese, on alleged judicial misconduct, gross disobedience of court judgment, abuse of power and financial mismanagement, a case which was already divided.

In a statement signed by its
Publicity Secretary, Joseph Igbudu, and issued to newsmen in Makurdi on Monday, the group said a suit was instituted by a group, Optimum Media Limited, seeking the court to compel the Governor of Benue State, Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia, to request the Benue State House of Assembly to investigate the Chief Judge of Benue State, Justice Maurice Ikpambese.

According to them, the suit filed by a team of lawyers led by Uwem U. Umoanwan, Esq, is marked FHC/MKD/CS/56/2024, before the Federal High Court Makurdi Division.

Igbudu recalled that, on February 12, 2024, the Benue Arise Network drew the attention of the world to a malicious, frivolous and ill-fated petition to the National Judicial Commission(NJC), by a group under the umbrella of Benue Diaspora Vanguard (US Chapter),
against Justice Ikpambese, dated November 30, 2023, bordering on alleged judicial misconduct, gross disobedience of court judgment, abuse of power and financial mismanagement.

He said “We also informed you that, same petition was served on the Governor of Benue State, calling on the governor to investigate the allegations against the Chief Judge of Benue State by the same group.

“As expected, that petition was decided by the NJC, and it met it’s ill-fated status as it was dismissed.

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“The NJC under the chairmanship of Hon. Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, at it’s plenary on May 15th, 2024 and May 16th, 2024, resolved all pending petitions/issues, and Justice Ikpambese was not amongst the three judges disciplined by the NJC.

“These facts are still in public domain and can easily be verified by media reports or just by visiting the website of the NJC, njc.gov.ng,” he said.

Igbudu stated that it was however, strange and embarrassing on the integrity of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, that a lawyer will file a suit on issues already decided by the NJC.

He further noted that the same petition dated November 30th, 2024, addressed to the NJC and was dismissed by the NJC is marked as
Exhibit ‘A’, while the letter to the Governor, urging him to investigate the CJ of Benue State are annexed and marked as Exhibit ‘B’ in the suit before the Federal High Court in Makurdi.

BAN stated that the lawyer who filed the suit praying the court to order the Governor of Benue State to request the Benue State House of Assembly to investigate the Chief Judge of Benue State ought to know as lawyers that the disciplinary body for judges is the NJC and not the Governor of Benue State or the Benue State House of Assembly.

“The team of lawyers led by Uwem U. Umoanwan ought to be ministers in the temple of justice and should know the appropriate disciplinary body for judges.

“It is our believe that the suit is accentuated by malice and the conduct of the lawyers is infamous and worthy of disciplinary actions.”

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The group called on the respective NBA branches of the affected lawyers to sanction the affected lawyers.

They also urged the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee(LPDC) of the NBA to immediately commence disciplinary action against the team of lawyers that filed Suit No:FHC/MKD/CS/56/2024, as the issues before the court have already been decided by the NJC.

They argued that if the plaintiffs/lawyers were not satisfied with the decision of the NJC, they would have taken the NJC to court and challenged the decision of the NJC and not urging the court to compel the governor to request the Benue State House of Assembly to investigate the CJ of Benue State.

They described the suit is as an invitation to a gross violation of the provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which has already made provisions for the procedure for disciplining judges.

BAN cautioned those sponsoring the faceless group to attack Justice Ikpambese to desist from such as they are ready to mobilize spirited individuals and well-meaning citizens of Benue State and Nigerians to counter any plot against the CJ who they were sure has done nothing other than to offer meritorious service to the Nigerian judiciary and Nigeria as a nation.

They encouraged Justice Ikpambese not to be deterred or blackmailed to give into the whims and caprices of those bent on discrediting his hard-earned reputation and that of the Nigerian judiciary at large.

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