Top Story

SERAP seeks probe of unfair treatment of former Kebbi state acting CJ, Karatu

137

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has condemned “the harassment, intimidation and unfair treatment of the former acting Chief Judge of Kebbi State, Elizabeth Karatu, who was barred from gaining access to her courtroom to deliver certain judgment by an official of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), who claimed he was acting based on the directive given to him by the management.”

The organization urged the Chairman of the National Judicial Council (NJC) and Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad to: “publicly condemn the unfair treatment of Justice Karatu and urgently refer the matter to appropriate authorities for a prompt, thorough and effective investigation in order to ensure that those responsible for this unlawful act are named and shamed and brought to justice.”

In a video clip, Justice Karatu is heard saying: “I am the most senior judge in this court and I am here to deliver my judgement. Can you imagine? Which management gave you the order? Today is my last day to be here and it is my right to be here. I have come to deliver my judgement. As far as I am concerned, everybody in this court is my junior and I need a courtroom to deliver my judgment.”

Reacting, SERAP in a statement today by its deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, said: “Barring Justice Karatu from delivering judgment is an intolerable act of intimidation against the highest judicial authority in Kebbi State at the material time. Regardless of any allegations that may have been levelled against her, it is clear that Justice Karatu has been unfairly treated by the apparently unlawful actions of the Kebbi State governor, Mr Atiku Bagudu and the NSCDC barring her from gaining access to her courtroom to rule on cases.”

According to SERAP, “Barring Justice Karatu from gaining access to her courtroom is entirely incompatible with the sacred principle of judicial independence, and the failure by the authorities to observe important procedural guarantees here is a textbook case of executive rascality. SERAP will vigorously pursue justice in this case, to ensure that this shameful act does not affect the work of other judges or undermine their ability to freely and effectively perform their judicial duties.”

The statement read in part: “The NJC should immediately set up a panel to thoroughly and effectively investigate the alleged role played by the new acting Chief Judge of Kebbi State, Justice Suleiman Mohammed Ambursa in the unfair treatment, harassment and intimidation of Justice Karatu, and if there is sufficient and relevant admissible evidence, to ensure appropriate disciplinary measures and sanctions against him.”

“The ultimate responsibility for the crisis in Kebbi State’s judiciary lies with governor Bagudu. To prevent further erosion of the constitutional principles of judicial independence and separation of powers, the governor must publicly apologise for the blatant infraction of Justice Kataru’s human rights, and ensure her access to justice and effective remedies, including reparation.”

“It is clear that the rule of law in Kebbi State is under siege. SERAP urges the government of governor Bagudu to refrain from any threats or interference that may further hamper the court’s independence and authority as the supreme guardian of the Nigerian constitution and legislation.”

“By putting the court entrance under lock, the government of governor Bagudu and the NSCDC have obstructed justice, a form of corruption under the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party, as they have apparently unlawfully stopped Justice Karatu from performing her judicial duties and delivering certain judgment on the eve of her retirement.”

“The apparently arbitrary actions by governor Bagudu and the NSCDC also amount to an unlawful interference with Justice Karatu’s private and professional life, contrary to the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.”

“The Nigerian constitution and these human rights treaties afford legal protection against arbitrary interference by the authorities, including in Kebbi State. The unfair treatment and intimidation of Justice Karatu, apart from being incompatible with the rule of law, has had tangible consequences for her material well-being and her family.”

“Such arbitrary and illegal actions expose judges at both the federal and state levels to political and executive pressure, endangering their independence and impartiality.”

“Under our laws, judges can be removed only in accordance with an objective, independent procedure prescribed by law. Any sanctions or disciplinary procedures for judges must ensure sufficient separation of the judiciary from other branches of State power and provide appropriate guarantees against abuse and misuse of disciplinary measures and sanctions to the detriment of judicial independence.”

“Judges must be free to carry out their professional duties without political interference and must be protected, in law and in practice, from attack, harassment or persecution as they carry out their professional activities.”

“Courts play a major role in the fight against corruption, and ensuring that victims or potential victims of human rights violations obtain effective remedies and protection, that perpetrators of human rights violations are brought to justice.”

“But when judges are unfairly treated, the role of the judicial system to act as check and balance on the other branches of government, ensure that laws of the legislative and the acts of the executive comply with the rule of law, is seriously eroded.”

Last week, a trending video clip showed an official of the NSCDC barring Justice Karatu, from gaining access to a courtroom. The judge, who was billed to retire on July 5, was supposed to rule on cases on July 4, her last day in office. Mrs Karatu, until her retirement, was the most senior judge in Kebbi State judiciary. The civil defence official barricaded the road as he prevented the senior judge and her police orderly from gaining access to the court premises.

Justice Karatu, a Christian, was appointed acting chief judge of Kebbi State in October 2018, following the retirement of the former chief judge, Bala Mairiga, who left the bench the same month. The Kebbi State House of Assembly refused to confirm Mrs Karatu as the substantive CJ after the state governor, Atiku Bagudu, sent her name to the House, for confirmation.

Leave a comment

Related Articles

Food Security: Presidency inaugurates food coordination unit to harness resources, ideas.

The Presidency has inaugurated the Presidential Food Systems Coordination Unit (PFSCU) to...

Correcting the Lies in Dr. Olisa Agbakoba’s Assertions

By Kingsley Ariamaodo Eminent lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Dr. Olisa...

I’m concerned about Nigerian workers, committed to just, realistic minimum wage- Tinubu

As the nation’s driving force, President Bola Tinubu says Nigerian workers deserve...

Minimum wage: Tinubu’s meeting with labour deadlocked as labour insists on N250,000

The closed-door meeting between President Bola Tinubu and labor leaders over the...

Just In: Pres. Tinubu, Labour Leaders In Closed-Door Meeting Over Minimum Wage

President Bola Tinubu and the leadership of the organized labour in the...

Breaking: Supreme Court grants local governments financial autonomy 

The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that it is unconstitutional for state...

Just In: Pres. Tinubu invites labour for minimum wage talks

President Bola Tinubu has invited the organized labour, under the aegis of...

Breaking: Pres. Tinubu sets up ministry to address farmer-herder crisis

President Bola Tinubu has announced the creation of the Ministry of Livestock...

NNPC retail outlets extend hours of operation to ease tightness of fuel

The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC Ltd) has announced that all...

Nigeria’s debt level of N121.67trn remains within safe limits, says DMO

In spite of the increase in Nigeria’s total debt stock from N97.34...

Breaking: Pres. Tinubu gets second term as ECOWAS chairman

The ECOWAS Authority of Heads of States and Government has re-elected President...

CJN swears in daughter-in-law, Wike’s daughter, 10 other new FCT High Court judges July 10

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, will, on Wednesday,...

As food crisis persists, 82 million Nigerians may face severe hunger, says UN

Amid food insecurity in Nigeria, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), an...

Updated: Tinubu inaugurates Presidential Economic Coordination Council, announces 2m bpd benchmark in few months

President Bola Tinubu on Thursday inaugurated the Presidential Economic Coordination Council (PECC)...

Samoa agreement will not harm Nigerian interests, FG assures

Minister of Information Mohammed Idris has given assurances that President Bola Tinubu...

Labour Party in landslide victory as Sunak concedes defeat in UK polls

Labour has won the UK general election and is heading for a...

Nigeria clinches right to host African Energy Bank headquarters

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Heineken Lokpobiri, has stated...

Just In: FG Commissions 12 NNPC CNG Stations in Abuja, Lagos

The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, through its retail outlets and partners,...

Breaking: Rivers crisis: Defected 25 lawmakers win at Appeal Court

The Court of Appeal has nullified an order of the Rivers High...

𝐅𝐆 pays $𝟕𝟎𝟎𝐦 on debt servicing, says Finance Minister

The Federal Government has spent a total of $700 million on debt...