Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja on Thursday withdrew from hearing a suit challenging the qualification of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu as the governorship candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC ) in the September 19, 2020, gubernatorial election in Edo State.
The Judge opted out of the case following the second petition filed against him by one of the lawyers in the APC legal team
Justice Taiwo, who was apparently angry when he announced receipt of the second petition against him by a lawyer, regretted that his integrity has been maliciously called to question.
He said, “It was disturbing to receive a petition from a party in the suit seeking for the transfer of the case.
“The contents of the said petition are wicked and unsubstantiated. It is very disturbing that counsel would write this petition and even back it with an affidavit.
“It is not only COVID-19 that has become a pandemic, the spate at which politicians write petitions against judges should be declared a pandemic and should be checked.
“Unfortunately judges cannot respond to petitions against them through the media. I do not, for the record have any affiliation, personal or political with any of the parties in this case”, Justice Taiwo stated.
Immediately after lawyers in the suit announced their appearances for proceedings to begin, Justice Taiwo cut them short and announced that he was no longer prepared to go ahead with the matter.
The Judge said it was a matter of regret that a legal practitioner would have the effrontery to write a malicious, scandalous and outright blackmail against a Judge adding that with the petition questioning his integrity, he can no longer proceed with the case.
The Judge subsequently remitted the case to the Chief Judge of the court for reassignment to another Judge.
APC had, in a separate petition two weeks ago raised strong opposition to the speedy hearing of the suit seeking disqualification of its governorship candidate from the election and prayed the Chief Judge, Justice John Tsoho to withdraw the suit from Justice Taiwo.
In the petition dated August 20,/2020 by the National Secretary of the Caretaker Committee of the party, Senator John Akpanudoedehe, the party had accused Justice Taiwo of moving faster in the hearing of suit against Ize-Iyamu by granting abridgement of time to plaintiffs in the matter when a motion for same had not been moved.
APC had alleged that from its findings, Justice Taiwo has a close relationship with Rivers State governor, Mr Nyesom Wike, the Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Campaign Council in the Edo gubernatorial poll.
“That the APC is worried that they have no chance of getting Justice before Justice Taiwo Taiwo on account of his affinity to Governor Nyeson Wike and the anxiety demonstrated by abridging the time for defendants to file processes when the motion to do so was still pending and some defendants had not been served with the originating summons ”
At the last time when the matter came up, counsel to Ize-Iyamu, Chief Roland Otaru (SAN) and that of APC Mr Ehiogie West-Idahosa had drawn the attention of Justice Taiwo to the petition and asked him to suspend proceedings pending the time the chief judge will give directive on the petition.
Justice Taiwo, however, told them to leave the petition for the CJ to treat, being an administrative matter, adding that the new practice direction does not permit him to simply handoff from the matter.
When pressed further by Otaru that he must stay proceedings in view of the petition, Justice Taiwo drew the attention of the senior lawyer to the new National Judicial Council (NJC) directive to the effect that in a pre-election matter, no judge shall stop proceedings until otherwise directed by the council.
When the attempt to halt proceedings proved abortive, defendants in the matter applied for an adjournment to enable them to react to issues raised in the suit and to also allow the plaintiffs move a motion on notice for the matter to be heard during vacation.
The plaintiffs, led by Hon. Momoh Abdul-Razak had through their lawyer, Sir Friday Nwosu, sued the APC, Ize-Iyamu, INEC and Audu Ganiyu praying for an order of the court to stop Ize-Iyamu’s participation in the election on account of alleged ineligibility.