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Conflicting orders: NJC bars three judges from promotion

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The National Judicial Council (NJC) on Thursday wielded the big stick against three High Court judges for issuing conflicting ex parte orders.

Two of the judges — Okogbule Gbasam and  Nusirat  Umar — will not move to the “higher Bench” in the next two years, it said.

The third, Edem  Kooffreh of the High Court of Cross Rivers State, will remain on the same spot for five years.

Gbasam is a judge of the Rivers State  High Court while Umar is of the Kebbi State High Court.

The trio received warning letters which also placed them on a watchlist by the NJC.

They were found culpable of issuing conflicting orders in cases involving the former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus.

Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Ibrahim Muhammad had in August summoned them and their colleagues in Anambra, Jigawa and Imo states over conflicting orders that emanated from their courts.

A statement by the NJC  Director of Information, Soji Oye, said the decisions were reached at a meeting presided over by the NJC Deputy Chairman, Justice Mary Peter-Odili.

The statement was however, silent on the fate of the other three High Court judges in Anambra, Jigawa and Imo states.

Oye said although no written petition was presented against the three judges, the NJC  relied on its disciplinary power under the 1999 Constitution to investigate the circumstances that led to the spate of ex parte orders granted by some courts of coordinate jurisdiction on matters involving the same parties and subject.

He added that the NJC also approved the appointment of 63 judges for 16 states, including nine heads of court, during the meeting held on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The appointments, according to him, followed the notification of the retirements and deaths of some judges.

Oye’s statement partly reads: “The NJC rose from its two days meeting held on 14th and 15th December 2021, with a resolution to bar the three judges of courts of concurrent jurisdiction who granted conflicting ex parte orders in matters with same parties and subject matter from promotion to the higher bench for a period ranging from two to five years whenever they are due.

“Even though there was no written petition, allegations of corruption or impropriety against the subject judges, council nevertheless, initiated an investigation pursuant to its inherent disciplinary powers under the Constitution to unravel the circumstances that led to the spate of ex parte orders granted by these courts of coordinate jurisdiction over matters bearing same parties and subject matter.

“The meeting which was chaired by the Deputy Chairman of the council, Hon. Justice Mary Peter-Odili agreed with the recommendations of the Investigation Committee set up in September 2021 that Justice Okogbule Gbasam of the High Court of Rivers State be barred from elevation to higher Bench for two years whenever he is due, as he failed to exercise due diligence in granting the ex parte order in suit No: PHC/2183/CS/2021 between Ibealwuchi Earnest Alex & 4 others and Prince Uche Secondus & another, as there was no real urgency, in the circumstances of the matter, that would have required an ex parte order.

“His Lordship is also issued with a warning letter to be circumspect in granting such ex parte orders in the future.

“Council also resolved that Justice Nusirat I. Umar of the High Court of Kebbi State be barred from elevation to higher Bench for two years whenever due, having found fundamental defects and non-compliance with the law in granting the ex-parte order in suit No: KB/HC/M.71/2021 between Yahaya Usman & 2 others and Prince Uche Secondus & another.

“He is also issued with a warning letter to be circumspect in granting such ex-parte orders in the future.

“Hon. Justice Edem Ita Kooffreh of the High Court of Cross River State will not be promoted to a higher Bench for five years for allowing himself to be used as a tool for “forum shopping” and abuse of Court process in suit No: HC/240/2021 between Mr. Enang Kanum Wani and Uche Secondus, as it was evident that, in granting the ex parte order, he was seised of earlier orders of the High Courts of Rivers and Kebbi States, being courts of coordinate jurisdiction with his.

“He is also to receive a warning letter to be circumspect in granting such ex parte orders in the future.

“The council also placed him on its watch-list for a period of two years.”

Although the statement did not list the names of the 63 newly appointed judges and the heads of court, it named   Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi of the Court of Appeal, Hon. Justice Bello Duwale of the High Court of Sokoto State, Hon. Justices S. A. Omonua and O. S. Uwuigbe of the Edo State High Court, and Justices M. A. Pindiga  as well as  Beatrice L. Iliya of the High Court of Gombe State among  those on the retirement list

Others are  Muhammad  Abdulkadir, Grand Kadi, Sharia Court of Appeal, Kwara State and    Justice S. M. C. Ururuka-Ogeshi, president, Customary Court of Appeal, Abia State.

According to the statement, the judges, who passed on are A. K. Fowe of the High Court of  Ekiti State;   Chinonyerem Onii of the  High Court, Imo State and. Shehu Ahmad, grand kadi, Kaduna State.

It added that the NJC approved the promotion of 84 members of staff of the judiciary ranging from grade levels seven to 17.

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Lagos Assembly kicks against harassment of residents by police

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Lagos State House of Assembly Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa, yesterday, cautioned police in the state against harassment, intimidation and extortion of residents.

Obasa said this on the floor of the House when lawmakers honoured outgoing Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu, who has been promoted to Assistant Inspector-General, and is due to retire in January 2022.

Obasa said Odumosu was honoured as the first Commissioner of Police in the state to stand before the lawmakers and address Lagosians on his experience policing the state.

The Speaker thanked Odumosu for his openness and responsiveness to issues affecting the peace of the state.

“It is important to call on those behind you to know that the relationship between the police and the people need to be constantly improved upon,” Obasa said, adding that men of the Nigeria Police Force need to build more trust among the people.

“Everybody must be treated with respect, dignity and honour. And that is how we can earn respect. Policing should not be about harassment and extortion but building trust among the people and making them comfortable,” Obasa said.

The Commissioner of Police, who led a team of officers to the House, thanked the lawmakers for their support. According to him, nothing could have been achieved in terms of security and peace in the state without assistance of the House.

He said he would remain grateful to Lagosians for making it possible for him and his team to effectively manage the security of the state.

Odumosu, who described Lagos as ‘mini-Nigeria’, said proactivity of the Assembly led to the creation of laws that helped the police remain successful in the state.

He said the Cultism Prohibition Law also helped to reduce illegal associations in tertiary institutions in the state and enlightened property owners and residents.

“We promise to continue to excel in providing watertight security for people of the state,” he told the lawmakers. He also promised he would encourage his successor to sustain the relationship between the police and the House, while urging the lawmakers to extend their support to his successor.

“Policing Lagos is not a tea party. Without the laws in Lagos, it would have been difficult to police the state. Don’t get tired, don’t relent in making laws that would make Lagos maintain its place as the most peaceful state in Nigeria,” he said.

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Omicron: Govts may shut down schools; 647m children yet to fully resume

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THE World Bank has said that the new wave of COVID-19 pandemic that has seen a variant of the virus, Omicron, ravaging the world, may lead to governments across the globe being tempted to shut down schools again.

The World Bank has said this in a report titled: “Reversing the pandemic’s education losses”, recently released.

In the said report, the bank also said no fewer than 647 million school children are yet to fully resume for either physical or online learning.

It added that school children in developing nations are the hardest hit regarding the negative effects the pandemic has had on education globally.

“When schools around the world moved online due to COVID-19, children in developing countries suffered the most.

“Even though digital learning does not produce the same outcomes as in-person education, technology used effectively can close educational gaps and prevent learning loss.

“As the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic approaches, classrooms remain fully or partially closed for as many as 647 million schoolchildren around the world.

“Even where schools have reopened, many students continue to lag behind. It is now abundantly and painfully clear that children have learned less during the pandemic.”

According to World Bank estimates, pandemic-related school closures could drive up “learning poverty” – the share of 10-year-olds who cannot read a basic text – to around 70% in low- and middle-income countries.

This learning loss could cost an entire generation of schoolchildren $17 trillion in lifetime earnings.

“As the Omicron variant takes hold, more governments may be tempted to close schools. Without the online infrastructure in place to support learning, doing so would extend the educational losses and deny children many other benefits of daily school attendance, like the possibility to connect with classmates and develop social skills for personal growth.

“Interactions with teachers and peers are essential to develop the abilities necessary to work collaboratively. Being part of a class promotes a sense of belonging and helps build self-esteem and empathy.

“Throughout the pandemic, marginalised children have struggled the most. When classrooms around the world reopened this fall, it became clear that these children had fallen even further behind their peers.

“Before the pandemic, gender parity in education was improving. But school closures placed an estimated 10 million more girls at risk of early marriage, which practically guarantees the end of their schooling.

“Unless this regression is reversed, learning poverty and the associated human capital loss will hold economies and societies back for decades. Children must be given a chance to recover the education they have lost.

“They need access to well-designed reading materials, digital learning opportunities, and transformed education systems that help prepare them for future challenges. Well qualified teachers and effective use of technology are fundamental to this process.

“Many countries have deployed massive stimulus packages in response to the health crisis. But, as of June 2021, less than three per cent of these funds was devoted to the education and training sector.

“And most of these resources were spent in advanced economies. For many low-income countries, elevated debt-service payments crowd out essential social spending – including for education.

“The resulting weakness in investments to support education and training threatens to deepen the disparities in learning outcomes that existed prior to the pandemic.

“And while narrowing the education gap will require using resources more efficiently, the bottom line is that more resources are needed.

“For the world’s poorest countries, in particular, an acceleration in debt relief under the G20’s Common Framework, would provide fiscal space to increase support for human capital.

Investment in education must include funding for educational technology, taking into account what has worked well in different contexts around the world,” the report said.

The Bank called for improved investment in infrastructure to move education to the digital level and commended countries such as Uruguay and India for making giant strides in that direction.

“By investing in learning recovery and using technology wisely, it is possible to use the pandemic experience as a catalyst to improve education for all children.

“The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Bank Group are working together to ensure that all education systems use technology effectively to close gaps and help reverse learning losses.

“Embedding the use of technology within an overall strategy for ending learning poverty can help improve foundational skills, increase instructional time, and make the most efficient use of resources.

“This is particularly critical in low-income countries, where technology can provide teachers with the support they need quickly.

“Digital access can serve as a great equalizer. Resources must be invested wisely, taking into account countries’ electricity infrastructure, internet connectivity, digitally enabled devices for the most disadvantaged students, and data-management and implementation capacity.

“Without a carefully considered process to increase the use of technology, good intentions and well-designed policies will fail to achieve the recovery and acceleration of learning that developing countries need.

Access to quality education was uneven before the pandemic, and now it is even more so.

“By investing in learning recovery and using technology wisely, it is possible to use the pandemic experience as a catalyst to improve education for all children,” the report added

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Police nabs notorious bandit, Maiyammata during kidnap attempt

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Police Tactical Operatives in Zamfara arrested a notorious bandit popularly known as Maiyammata on Wednesday.

The wanted criminal, who hails from Mayasa village, was apprehended within Zurmi Local Government Area during a patrol.

Commissioner of Police, Ayuba Elkanah, said he was arrested while trying to kidnap passengers at Koliya.

Maiyammata, formerly of the Bello Turji gang, is now believed to be working for another wanted kingpin, Kachalla Sani-Black.

Sani-Black operates along Zurmi, Shinkafi and Birnin Magaji Local Government Areas.

“One AK-47 rifle, double magazines with three rounds of live ammunition and one Boxer motorcycle was recovered from him”, the CP told newsmen.

Elkanah added that efforts are on to catch Maiyammata’s partners before charges will be filed in court.

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