A judge of the Upper Area Court in Abuja who recently issued a direct criminal summons against Charles Soludo, governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in the forthcoming election in Anambra State, is to face judicial discipline, as directed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Tanko Muhammad,
Gambo Garba of the Upper Area Court, Zuba, Abuja, had in July, issued a direct criminal summons against Mr. Soludo over his alleged failure to declare his assets while serving as the CBN governor between 29 May 2004 and 29 May 2009.
The complainant, Oliver Bitrus, had alleged that Mr. Soludo, while holding the CBN governor’s office as a public officer, violated the Code of Conduct for public officers by buying property not attributable to his legitimate earnings, according to a report in the PREMIUM TIMES.
The direct criminal summons issued by the Upper Area Court was approval to Mr. Bitrus to prosecute Mr. Soludo at the court.
It seemed odd that the Upper Area Court, a court at the magisterial level established to handle Sharia law-related matters, could act outside its jurisdiction by issuing the direct criminal summons against Mr. Soludo.
The action of the Upper Area Court judge appears to have embarrassed Nigeria’s chief judicial officer, hence the order for judicial discipline.
“The CJN has directed the Judicial Service Committee (JSC) of the FCT under the Chairmanship of the Acting Chief Judge, Hon. H. Y. Baba to immediately initiate disciplinary action against the Upper Area Court Judge who issued direct Criminal Summons against the Anambra State APGA governorship candidate Professor, Chukwuma Soludo, over alleged serial abuse of office and breach of Code of Conduct for public officers when he was the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria between 29 May 2004 – 29 May 2009,” a judiciary source wrote in a message shared with a PREMIUM TIMES reporter.
The CJN was said to have noted that the issues of “perjury, corruption, and false assets declaration” raised in the complaints in respect of which the Upper Area Court judge issued the direct criminal summons against Mr. Soludo were “completely outside the jurisdiction of the Upper Area Court.”
The CJN directed the Acting Chief Judge of the FCT High Court who heads the FCT Judiciary Service Commission to exact judicial discipline against the judge, conduct further inquiries and “submit his findings to the CJN within 21 days,” sources revealed.
The Chief Justice of Nigeria had met with the Chief Judges of the FCT, Rivers, Kebbi, Cross Rivers, Jigawa, Anambra, and the Imo States on Monday, 6 September 2021, over similar acts of impunity of issuance of conflicting ex parte orders in some political cases. He was reported to have admonished the judges in their jurisdictions on the danger of granting ex parte injunctions.