Justices of The Court of Appeal in Abuja on Thursday criticized Justice Okong Abang of the Federal High Court Abuja over his verdict on the case between Governor Okezie Ikpeazu and Uche Ogar.
The justices who heard the case were Ibrahim Shatta Bdliya, Philomena Buwa Ekpe, Morenikeji Ogunwumiju, Abubakar Datti Yahaya and Saidu Tanko Huseni.
In a unanimous judgment, which lasted for six hours, the five justices of the court held that Justice Okong Abang went beyond his remit as a judge, was biased and turned the law upside down.
The Appeal Court justices further held that the matter was hostile, controversial and contentious and should not have been commenced with an originating summon.
The court held that Justice Abang erred in law and occasioned a miscarriage of justice against the governor when he refused to give fair hearing.
Justice Ogunwumiju, who delivered the verdict said Justice Abang “committed grave violence against one of the pillars of justice” relating to fair hearing.
Justice Ogunwumiju said:
“After reading through the judgment several times, I was amazed at how the trial judge arrived at his conclusion of perjury against the appellant when there was no evidence of forgery. His findings are ridiculous.”
“The judge must have sat in his chambers, unilaterally assessed and computed the taxes of the appellant and came to the conclusion that he did not pay the required taxes.”
“Courts are not allowed to speculate, as the trial judge did in the instant case. In one breadth, the trial judge spoke from the two sides of his mouth when he claimed that he based his findings on supply of false information and in another breadth he came to the conclusion that the appellant committed perjury even when there was no allegation of forgery and no allegation that he did not pay tax.”
Justice Okong Abang has gained a reputation in the last few years for delivering highly controversial rulings that has reinforced the perceived rascality of a wing of the Nigerian Judiciary.
Other than his controversial ruling on the Okezie Ikpeazu case, he has through his rulings fueled the leadership crisis in the PDP with his most recent being an order to prevent the Port-Harcourt Convention.
He has been accused of granting the Ali Modu Sheriff faction controversial and often incomprehensible rulings, the last resulting in officers of the Police Force shutting access to the Rivers State Government House.
Some detainees of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have also fingered him as one of the to-go-to judges who readily grants long detention orders to the commission during its investigation of high profile corruption cases.
Justice Okong Abang also refused to recuse himself from a corruption trial involving the former National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Olisa Metuh, after the latter accused him of bias and being his classmate at the Nigerian Law School between 1987 and 1988, a claim Abang denied.