Retired judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Okechukwu Okeke, has said that a justice of the Supreme Court almost caused his dismissal from the Bench a few months to his retirement.
Speaking at a valedictory court session organised in his honour by the Federal High Court in Lagos, he said three petitions were written against him at the twilight of his service, all authored by Senior Advocates on behalf of their clients.
He said his travails arose from the application filed by the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) in charge No. FHC/L/297C/2009: Federal Republic of Nigeria Vs Dr. (Mrs) Cecilia Ibru.
According to him, on February 28, 2013, AMCON applied for an order, granting leave to an applicant to apply for the issuance of a writ of execution (possession) by the registrar of the court in respect of all Federal Government property listed as No. 1-No.27 in schedule VI of the official gazatte No. 94 volume 98 (Exhibit MSU), being part of property forfeited to the applicant by the respondent vie the order of Justice Daniel Abutu.
He said: “On March 1, 2013, the application was argued. I was satisfied that a case had been made out for the exercise of the court’s discretion in favour of the applicant. The said application was granted as prayed. And on March 6, 2013, I received a call from the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court that Justice Clara Ogunbiyi of the Supreme Court was furious with me for granting leave to AMCON which led to the ejection of her daughter and son in-law from No. 5A, George Street, Ikoyi, Lagos. I explained the position to him. In his characteristic policy of non-interference with his judges in the discharge of their duties, he advised me to hear any application for discharge of the order of March 1, 2013 whenever filed”.
Okeke alleged that on March 8, 2013, one Funke Ogunbiyi, who claimed to be daughter of the Supreme Court judge came to his chambers, telling him to vacate the orders at her mother’s directive.
“I advised her that since they have filed the motion on notice for the setting aside of the order of March 1, 2013, that their counsel should meet the registrar of the court for a date for their motion. I, therefore, dismissed the application to set aside the order made on March 1, 2013 and advised the interveners/applicants to take their case to the Court of Appeal. Hell was then let loose on me. The intervener/applicant and their counsel wrote a petition against me, which they backdated to March 18, 2013, to the National Judicial Council,” he said.