The Federal High Court has reshuffled its judges across its 36 divisions in the country with 53 out of the court’s 77 judges affected in the shake-up.
The changes are to take effect from April 12, according to a circular issued on March 16 (Tuesday) by the Chief Judge of the court, John Tsoho.
Although the postings are seen as a routine usually carried out every two to four years by successive Chief Judges, the new reshuffling comes just about two years and one month after the last round came to effect on February 11, 2019.
It is the first under Tsoho who assumed office in acting capacity in July 2019 and was sworn in as the substantive Chief Judge about five months later in December 2019, PremiumTimes is reporting.
Lagos and Abuja remain the divisions with the highest concentration of the court’s judges followed by Port Harcourt under the new arrangement.
When the new postings come to effect, the two divisions, Lagos and Abuja, undoubtedly the busiest, will have 10 judges in addition to the Chief Judge who has chambers in both places.
While three judges are going to be moving out of Abuja division, which is the court’s headquarters, four are being redeployed there to jerk the number of the judges there from nine to 10 in addition to the Chief Judge who switches between Abuja and Lagos.
Six out of the nine judges currently in the Abuja division are not affected by the new postings.
They are, Binta Nyako, Anwuli Chikere, Ahmed Mohammed, Inyang Ekwo, Taiwo Taiwo, and Nkeonye Maha.
They will now be joined by four others – Z.B Abubakar being redeployed from Kaduna, Obiora Egwuatu, being posted from Kano, Mobolaji Olubukola from Makurdi, and D.U Okorowo from Lokoja.
For Lagos, three out of the seven judges are posted out of the division. Those posted out are M.A Oyenetu, redeployed to Owerri, Chuka Obiozor, who is also a professor, redeployed to Benin, and R. M Aikawa taken to Akure.
The judges in the division that are not affected by the new postings are, Olayinka Faji, Chukwujekwu Aneke, Muslim Hassan, and Iniekenimi Oweibo.
They will now be joined by six others posted from different places to make the judges in the Lagos division 10, in addition to the Chief Judge, who has a reserved courtroom in the division.
They are Lewis Allagoa being redeployed from Kano, Akintayo Aluko being posted from Abakaliki, Daniel Osiagor from Umuahia Division, Peter Lifu from Osogbo Division, Tijjani Ringim from Owerri Division, and M.O Awogboro from Yenagoa Division.
The Port Harcourt Division in Rivers State, which ranks after Lagos and Abuja in terms of workload, will be manned by six judges when the new postings come to effect.
Three of the judges in the division not affected by the posting – E.A Obile, M.L Abubakar, and Adamu Muhammed – are to be joined by Patricia Ajoku, posted from Ibadan Division, Phoebe Ayua being posted from Abakaliki, and Jude Dagat from Maiduguri Division.
A prominent name on the list is Hyeladzira Nganjiwa, a judge of the court prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for unlawful enrichment, in June 2017, has been redeployed to Gombe Division from Bayelsa. Nganjiwa was able to secure a Court of Appeal judgment which terminated his trial on the grounds that he had not been disciplined by the National Judicial Council (NJC) before he was charged.
By the rules of the court, redeployed judges are expected to continue with their part-heard cases, particularly the criminal cases they started in their old division.
Judges in this category are Nnamdi Dimgba who is returning to Abuja, Okon Abang who is being posted out of Abuja for the second time since 2015, is going to Warri, Delta State; Ijeoma Ojukwu, who is being redeployed to Calabar from Abuja; Chuka Austine Obiozor is being redeployed to Benin from Lagos and Rilwan Aikawa, is being redeployed to Akure in Ondo State from Lagos.
Tsoho asked judges affected by the new reshuffling to carry along with them the household items already provided them in line with a policy which he said had been in place since 2015. He listed the items as, double door fridge, washing machine, gas cooker, deep freezer, 55 inch television set, grass cutting machine, electrical surge appliance, microwave, fan, and water dispenser.
Tsoho also asked them to ensure that proper inventory is taken of the court’s property in their possession besides the listed household. He said the inventory taken by the judges should be handed over to the Deputy Registrar or the station registrar in charge of the divisions and a copy of same sent to the Chief Judge’s office.