Chokota community in Igbo-Etche town, Etche Local Government Area of Rivers State has accused a judge in the Rivers State judiciary, Justice Uche Augusta Kingsley-Chuku of gross judicial recklessness, misconduct, bias, deep manifestly personal interests in a case she is handling, partiality and abuse of court process.
They are now calling on relevant authorities to prevail on the judge from causing judicial confusion, travesty and miscarriage of Justice.
This follows disputes over alleged land grabbing from one Chief Udofia Obasiobong, operating under the name of Livingstone Estate.
The community accused Chief Udofia of invading their ancestral native lands without reauthorization. They also alleged that he had stationed soldiers and police officers there to prevent them from accessing their farms.
According to Eze Samuel Nwafor, the paramount ruler of Umuotube-Chokota Community; Simeon Nwafor, a political leader; High chief Life Elebe and Elder Onyenuna Sunday, after several harassments residents of the community had suffered in the hands of Udofia and his armed forces accomplices, they filed a Suit before a Rivers State Customary Court which gave its final judgement against him.
According to them, rather than appeal the judgment at the Customary Court of Appeal as the law prescribed, Udofia decided to embark on forum shopping by any means, no matter how unlawful it may be and found a willing tool in the person of Justice Augusta Kingsley-Chuku.
“Many people have accused the husband, Kingsley Chuku Esq, of being the actual holder of Udofia’s brief, which he strategically does via a proxy, before the wife’s court. It’s believed he scooped and manipulated the Udofia’s case to be assigned to his wife.
“Udofia has boasted severally, that he fully paid for, and will definitely procure judgment. He further boasted that he has promised Kingsley chuku and the wife 50 plots of land, that’s why he’ll soon obtain a judgment from Augusta Kingsley-Chuku’s court”, the community alleged.
They said the judge exhibited bias by always acting as the lead counsel to Udofia. According to them, she has harassed and intimidated two of the lawyers representing the community before her court, adding that the third and latest lawyer has not been an exception.
“For a case that she started to hear mid last year, justice Augusta has swiftly, but unlawfully adjourned for a final address without regards to pending appeals at the Court of Appeal, challenging her jurisdiction to continue.
“She also adjourned for final addresses without regards to the judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction on the same subject matter and same parties.
“She has also failed to acknowledge pending applications and petitions by the community for her to recuse herself and withdraw from the matter due to her manifest bias and partiality and denied the new community lawyers access to the court’s records, despite due payment made for it, thereby denying them a fair hearing”.
The community also accused the judge giving days adjourned for Final Addresses immediately after she foreclosed them from putting any defence, despite the fact that the law provided for a total of 42 days.
Other accusation levelled against the judge including sitting as if she’s Supreme Court over a case now properly before the court of Appeal. She is also accused of openly denying ever seeing the pending Applications/petitions against her in the court’s files despite the fact that all Applications were electronically wired and transmitted while Udofia lawyers have already responded to the same and transmitted them to her court.
“In short, we have worst that justice Okon Abang in Rivers State judiciary, in the person of justice Augusta Kingsley-chuku. She’s worst because, she combines her manifestly biased interests, with gross ignorance of basic provisions of the law. There’s absolutely no pretence in her that she’s doing the matter for herself and family’s interests while sitting as a judge”.
The community, therefore, compassionately appealed to the National Judicial Commission, NJC; Rivers State government, and other relevant authorities to call “justice Augusta to order, not only to save the good image of the judiciary which she’s clearly dragging to the gutters, and to save the good image and name of the Governor of Rivers State, who graciously recommended her for this lofty position of a high court judge but for the overall interest of the due process of the law, and legal system which she’s dealt a fatal blow already”.
Recall that the All Progressives Congress had in January 2020 threatened to report Justice Kingsley-Chukwu, to NJC for being cahoots with the ruling Peoples Democratic Party to paralyse the state branch of the party.
In a statement by its spokesman, Lanre Issa-Onilu, the APC said it believed it was the victim of a judicial-political conspiracy, with Justice Augusta as a prominent player.
“It is now obvious that the PDP being the ultimate beneficiary of the inability of the APC to elect its state executives for more than one year owing to judicial restrictions have deployed professional litigants and judicial staff to aid their unholy interference in the affair of the APC. They have put their plans to action by getting minions to institute frivolous suit and ensuring that the suit is assigned to Justice Augusta Kingsley-Chukwu, wife of a top PDP leader in Rivers State”.