By Gabriel Udeh, Kaduna
Suspicious of conspiracy between Presiding Judge of Courts 13, Justice D.H. Khobo of Kaduna State High Court of Justice, and the plaintiff, Mr. Lawrence Enyesiobi, on a case of defamation of character pending before the court, former military administrator of Kebbi State, Col. John I.P. Ubah (rtd), has written to the judge requesting the judge to withdraw from his matter, for the interest of justice.
Col. Uba, defendant, who is standing trial on charges of defamation of character instituted against him by Enyesiobi, is also accusing the presiding Judge of bias and having personal interest in the case.
Ubah, who is standing-in for himself as a Counsel, told journalists in court, Thursday, when he met the Hall under lock-and-key, that he wrote two letters to the judge to grant him audience to make an observation in the presence of the plaintiff, but were ignored.
A letter of application, dated 13th December, 2017, and addressed to the presiding Judge of Court 13, by the defendant’s company, “En’Adigwu Petroleum Ltd,” observed that there was violation of the provision of Section 39 of the Nigerian constitution of 1999, which guarantees freedom and that of the press.
Titled “Re: Application for audience with the presiding Judge of Court 13 in respect of Suit No.KADH/KAD/202/2017, between Mr. Lawrence Enyesiobi & Col. JOHN IP Uba, rtd,” the letter stated that the matter was transferred by Hon Chief Judge since 19th day of June 2017, but has not been mentioned to date, leading to my application for Your Lordship to hear my observation in the presence of the plaintiff.”
The letter continues that, “For example, the presiding Judge in Court 10 sent out members of press and prevented them from covering my matter on the day of mentioning,” which prompted the initial transfer.
In the letter, Ubah also observed that even though Section 36 of the Nigerian constitution of 1999, guaranteed fair hearing, the provision was violated since transferred to the court on 19 June this year was not mentioned till date, even when the court was one of a vacation court.
The Defendant also raised the issue of practice of directive implementation of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, on order 7, which is on trial, saying it “provides for 180 to conclude trial of matter,” among others, including Kaduna High Court Civil Procedures Rules 2007, order 42,2, explicit in respect of public and private sitting of court, that were violated, but the judge refused to grant him audience.
He expressed conviction that the reason for the continual ignominy of the his case in court was because the judge is uncomfortable with the presence of the pressmen to cover the session.
Ubah, who is also the immediate past ACF Chief Scribe, told journalists at the court premises that the adjournment was deliberately done because of the presence of journalists, who have developed interest in the matter, which commenced since June 2002.
It would be recalled that the initial case between Mr. Lawrence Enyesiobi (defendant) and Col. Ubah (plaintiff), which bordered around land ownership, lingered in court for 14 years before the new suit No. KDH/KAD/202/2017, filed before Kaduna State High Court, in which they exchanged roles, with Col Ubah becoming the defendant in the defamation of character case after the Colonel wrote a petition allegation against Enyesiobi, alleging corruption and fraudulent utterances against the claimant, who is now claiming N10 million from Ubah.