On Thursday, 25th of January 2018, the then Chief Judge of Abia State, Justice Theresa Uzokwe, summoned a meeting of all the workers at the state High Court Complex along Ikot Ekpene Road Umuahia.
All the staff arrived for the meeting and while waiting for the Chief Judge, the sacked Court Registrar, Mrs. Elizabeth Akwiwu Chukwu, who was sacked as a Magistrate and removed as Court Registrar by the State Judicial Service Commission for falsifying her age, surprisingly started addressing the workers.
When Justice Theresa arrived the premises of the High Court and spotted the newly appointed Court Registrar, Chief Magistrate Benson Anya, seated at the meeting venue she alighted from her car and verbally attacked him in the presence of all the workers before proceeding to lock the gates of the court to prevent newsmen from recording the unfolding drama.
Justice Uzokwe publicly exchanged verbal abuses with Magistrate Benson and ordered for remand papers to be brought to her so she can detain him for attending the meeting of judiciary workers.
As the public standoff grew with the Chief Judge screaming abuses on top of her voice, one of her aides, on her prompting, invited the State Commissioner of Police to the Court Premises to ostensibly arrest and lock up Mr. Benson.
Even with the arrival of the Police Chief, Mrs. Uzokwe could not be pacified and repeatedly rejected entreaties by the Commissioner to join him in her office to discuss the issues. She continued to shout at the police commissioner; “you must lock up Benson before I listen to you”.
The Commissioner of Police managed to lead her to her office and after more than 45 minutes of the meeting, where her voice was heard all through screaming and shouting, the Commissioner of Police came down and asked Mr. Benson to ride with him to the state police headquarters.
Mrs. Uzokwe then came down and in the guise of addressing the staff proceeded to pour unprintable vituperations on the members of the state Judicial Service Commission that appointed Benson as Court Registrar and told the staff that instead of Benson serving in that office she will ensure he is locked up for daring to attend a meeting she called.
When some senior judicial officers and Magistrates who witnessed what was happening tried to calm her down she turned on them in the full glare of the workers of the High Court and told them off before jumping into her official car to the Police Headquarters where she continued to shout and scream at the Police Commissioner to lock up Benson.
The State Commissioner Of Police managed to calm her down after threatening to throw her out of his office if she does not calm down. He then advised Benson to ignore her provocations and return to his office.
When the members of the State House of Assembly got wind of the disgraceful conduct of the then Chief Judge, as reported by various online news media outlets, they convened the next morning and deliberately on the petition against her from the Global Center for Peace and Justice and decided to pass a resolution suspending her as Chief Judge of the State and gave her 7 days to clear her name from the 38 allegations of gross misconduct bothering on acts unbecoming of a state Chief Judge and Financial impropriety.
When the resolution was communicated to Governor Ikpeazu he invited the next Judge in rank, Justice Obisike Orji, and the Solicitor General of the State-administered the necessary oaths on him as acting Chief Judge of the state.
A staff of the State High Court who spoke to our reporter after the suspension of the Chief Judge by the House of Assembly thanked the legislators for “saving us from the mad Uzokwe who wants to destroy the judiciary in the state”.
She advised that “judges should be made to regularly undergo a psychiatric evaluation to prevent the likes of Uzokwe from remaining on the bench to mess things up for everyone”.
An Aba-based executive member of the Abia State Chapter of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) who spoke to our reporter on the condition of anonymity described the former Chief Judge as “a judicial megalomaniac and a disgrace to the Bench who was ab initio unfit to be appointed the Chief Judge of Abia State”.
He stated that the Aba branch of the NBA vehemently opposed her nomination as CJN but the government of the day stuck to their guns on the basis that she was the most senior Judge and concluded by saying “now they have seen why we opposed her appointment”