BY ANAYO OKOLI
THE Abia State House of Assembly yesterday passed a motion, calling for the removal of the state Chief Judge, Justice Nnenna Oti from office for allegedly releasing some suspects from the prisons.
The motion is coming barely three months after Justice Oti assumed office as the substansive Chief Judge.
The recommendation for Oti’s removal followed the adoption of the report of a committee of the House Committee which investigated a petition against her by some ‘’aggrieved citizen of the state.’’
Some indigenes of the state were alleged to have petitioned the House following the release of about 10 suspects from prison by the Chief Judge.
The report of the House Committee was not read at plenary but some members of the House told Vanguard that some unidentified people petitioned against the release of two suspects arrested about a month ago, in connection with the alleged murder of the former state Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr Kenneth Nwosu from the prisons.
However, sources told Saturday Vanguard that the power of the Chief Judge of a state to release any detained or convicted person from prisons is inhereent and cannot be questioned.
It was said that the petition against Oti, followed her ‘’jail release,’’ in Aba and Umuahia prisons where she visited.
The petition entitled ”Acts of the Chief Judge of Abia State likely to compound the security situation in Abia State and Nigeria” alleged that some of the prisoners released posed very serious security risk to the society.
Following the petition, the assembly constituted a committee headed by the leader of the House, Mr. Chidiebere Nwoke, to look into the allegations.
It was said that the Chief Judge failed to appear before the panel after an invitation was alleged to have been extended to her.
At yesterday sitting, the committee submitted its report to the House and recommended that Oti be removed for failing or neglecting the invitation to appear before the committee, describing her action as unacceptable to the House.
Justice Oti was sworn-in as the substantive Chief Judge in April. Before her swearing-in, the state had been running the judiciary with various Chief Judges operating in acting capacity. Meanwhile, some lawyers who spoke with Saturday Vanguard yesterday night said that the state Chief Judge ‘’can use his or her discretion to determine who to release or not,’’ adding that the ‘’this forms part of his/her discretionary powers, as part of activities to mark a new legal year.’’