The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed three separate appeals filed by the suspended President of the Rivers State Customary Court of Appeal,
Justice P.N.C Agumagu.
Agumagu, who sued the National Judicial Council before the Federal High Court in Abuja, challenging his suspension by the council, had among other prayers, asked the Supreme Court to strike out the appeal records compiled by the council.
The NJC had suspended Agumagu for allegedly flouting his judicial oath by allowing Governor Rotimi Amaechi to swear him in as the Chief Judge of Rivers State without the council recommending him.
In one of the interlocutory appeals arising from his suit, Agumagu had contended that the Court of Appeal was wrong in interpreting the provisions of the Court of Appeal Practice Direction of 2013.
Agumagu, in the appeals, also challenged the refusal of the Court of Appeal to strike out the records of proceedings compiled by the NJC.
Agumagu’s counsel, Chief Akinlolu Olujinmi (SAN), had contended that the NJC was wrong to have compiled the records of appeal within 14 days instead of the 60 days stipulated by the law.
Olujimi had also urged the Supreme Court to direct the Court of Appeal to stay proceedings in a separate appeal, which was filed by the NJC.
The NJC had filed its appeal against the decision of the trial judge, Justice Adeniyi Ademola, who decided to hear its objection along with the Agumagu’s main suit.
The NJC had appealed against the decision and compiled the records within 14 days to enable the appeal court to hear the case on time.
However, Agumagu’s counsel, Olujimi objected, saying the compilation of the records did not follow due process, arguing that the law stipulated 60 days for the record to be compiled and that leave of court ought to be obtained.
In a ruling delivered by Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal and ordered all the parties to return to the Court of Appeal for hearing of the main appeal.
In the lead judgment delivered Rhodes-Vivour, the apex court held that the appeals were premature, as they ought to have been filed after final determination of the suit.
Justice Rhodes-Vivour said, “We have examined this, and the other grounds of appeal and are satisfied that the issues in the appeal are matters that can be brought to this court when the appeals are concluded.
“Accordingly, application for a stay of proceedings of the pending appeals in the court of appeal is hereby struck out. Notice of appeal to this court is also struck out.”
NJC’s lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), had opposed the appeal, arguing that the appellant should have waited for the Court of Appeal to decide the substantive appeal.