Published On: Wed, Sep 18th, 2019

How Judicial Recklessness Can Threaten Outcome Of Suit Seeking Custody Of Children In Abuja

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The Judiciary has in recent time come under serious criticism by some Nigerians in the way and manner justice is dispensed following some high profile cases that made headlines in most national dailies. However, the development does not mean all is well with cases that attracted little or no reportage following erroneous and reckless handling of low profile cases.

In this piece, an independent investigator divulges to AljazirahNigeria’s judiciary correspondent what could be best described as judicial recklessness dissipated by the Upper Area Court sitting at Gwagwalada, Abuja, under the watchful eyes of Shariah court of Appeal Gudu, Abuja. An act of misconduct in respect of case No.: CV/90/2019 between Amina Usman vs Abubakar Rahmat Salihu.

Narrating the outcome of his investigation on a case seeking to keep custody of children of Abubakar Rahmat Salihu and his estranged wife, Amina Usman, he had these revelations to make;

“Abubakar Rahmat Salihu is the defendant in the abovementioned suit which was heard before His Worship the judge of the upper area court sitting in Gwagwalada.

“The suit was initially before the Area Court in Kubwa before it was transferred by the head of the Sharia court from Kubwa Area Court to the Gwagwalagda Area Court.

According to the investigator, “The suit borders on the custody of the defendant’s children whose mother was granted temporary custody of the children by the former judge sitting in Kubwa.

“The order was appealed by the respondent to the Sharia court of appeal during which an outcome of the appeal was being awaited. The defendant appealed the awaited decision of the Sharia Court of Appeal and duly informed the judge through a motion and a letter of the need to wait for the decision of the court of appeal  A motion was filed for the restraining order against the judge and others to stop the warrant of arrest he has issued against the defendant on the civil matter.

“Our findings revealed that the Gwagwalagda Upper Area Court Judge issued the said arrest warrant without jurisdiction and was trying to make use of the vacation to overreach the appeal by enforcing the judgement appealed against.

“Furthermore, the investigation revealed that the head of the upper area court in Gwagwalada was heard making utterances against the Defendant that he must jail him since he had written a petition against his masters at the sharia court to NJC for misconduct. To us this seems like the ruling of the Gwagwalada upper area court on this, is a vendetta against the defendant.

“ Our further trail on the petitions written by the defendant shows that the above reasons and many other attitude exhibited by the judge in Gwagwalada led to the petition by the defendant.

“According to a source in the court, the judge in Gwagwalada gave an order that no submission be received at the court from the defendant. It is despicable that a judge of his caliber will always descend that way during and after court proceedings.

It is also on good authority that “On August 1, 2019 he signed a subpoena that the defendant should produce the children in court when the defendant is fully aware that subpoenas are only issued to witnesses. According to a staff of the court, the defendant’s counsel informed the court that they have since filed a notice of appeal challenging the order at the Sharia court of appeal but yet he turned a deaf ear since he already has a mission to accomplish.

Our findings further showed that the defendant approached the High court to remove the case from the Gwagwalagda court, and to call the said judge to order.

In our effort to know the details and merits of the defendant’s petition submitted to various offices, we found out that the above submission was reported by the defendant through a petition to the Executive Secretary, National Judicial Council, Supreme court, of Nigeria complex, the secretary FCT Judicial Service committee, Gudu High court and the Director of Area Court, Sharia Court of Appeal. The investigation also traced to know if there has been responses from the offices where the petition were reported, but found out that yet no feedback from the authorities, which suggest that the petitions has merits.

Accordingly, the investigation further revealed that “On the 6th of September 2019, a Certiorari court order with motion No FCT/HC/M/8287/19 quashing the entire proceedings, subpoena ad testificandum et du cess tecum, ruling of 1st August 2019 and warrant of arrest of 7th, August, 2019 was obtained by the defendant from the High court of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyanya, Abuja. The said orders were duly served to the respondent’s counsel and the sole judge upper area court sitting at Gwagwalagda.

At this juncture attempt by the investigators to interact with Abubakar Rahmat Salihu (defendant) and Amina Usman (respondent) was abortive, as defendant’s contact phone was not reachable and the respondent’s number was reached but refused to interact with the investigators.

Additionally and based on findings around the court environment, revealed that the Sharia Court of Appeal under the leadership of its Head attempted serving the defendant another warrant of arrest on 12th of September, 2019 at his office, despite the existing Court of Appeal of Nigeria restraining order with appeal number CA/A/688/S/2019 from the court of Appeal and Certiorari court order with Motion No FCT/HC/M/19 staying all action or steps towards the proceedings of the respondent.

In synopsis, the investigator frowned at the observations portraying the judiciary which serves as the hope of the common man as a tool for what could be regarded as judicial recklessness on the part of the Area Court Judge in Gwagwalagda under the watch of the shariah court of appeal. According to our sources, the respondent counsel is still seen around the Sharia court of appeal attempting to influence the court to carry out further action where they have no jurisdiction. This urgently begs for concern an sincere interpretation from all stakeholders, on whether it is right for an upper area court to overrule a restraining order of the court of appeal and if also the shariah court has the power to attend to a matter before the court of appeal.

The above submission from the investigators begs for an answer to avoid any ambiguity in the standards of the nation’s judicial system.

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