The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed three appeals for stay of proceedings application brought by the suspended Chief Judge of Rivers State, Justice Peter Agumagu, against the National Judicial Council.
Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour, in his judgment, held that the appeals were premature and dismissed them accordingly.
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, the appellant’s application for a stay of proceedings of the pending appeals in the Court of Appeal is hereby struck out.
“The notice of appeal to this court is also struck out.”
Rhodes-Vivour also ordered all the parties in the suit to go back to the Court of Appeal for hearing of the main appeal.
The NJC suspended Agumagu on March 27, nine days after he was sworn in as the Rivers State Chief Judge by Governor Rotimi Amaechi.
Agumagu had sued the NJC over the suspension and prayed for a judicial review of his case by the court.
The suit was before Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court.
The NJC had said it did not recommend Agumagu to Amaechi for the appointment, which, it said, contravened Section 271 of the 1999 Constitution.
The section stipulates that a governor can only make such appointment on NJC’s recommendation.
Ademola decided to hear the case together with the objections raised by the NJC and three others.
However, Agumagu’s counsel, Chief Akinlolu Olujinmi (SAN), argued that decision of the trial court to compile the records of proceedings of the decision of the NJC within 14 days was wrong.
The records had outlined the basis for Agumagu’s suspension.
But Olujinmi contended that the compilation of the records at the trial court did not follow due process because the law stipulated 60 days for the record to be compiled.
He further argued that the Court of Appeal had no jurisdiction to hear the appeal if the records of appeal were not properly compiled.
Counsel, therefore, prayed the Court of Appeal to strike out the records and compel the Court of Appeal to stay proceedings in the appeal.
The Court of Appeal, however, refused to grant his prayers, following which he approached to the apex court.
Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), NJC’s counsel, however, opposed the appeal.
Olanipekun said Olujinmi should have waited for the Court of Appeal to decide the substantive appeal.
The apex court ordered the Court of Appeal to hear the appeal with dispatch and that any party aggrieved by its judgment could then bring an appeal to the Supreme Court.