The query/suspension letter obtained by SaharaReporters on Saturday said the chief magistrate has 24 hours to respond the allegations of “gross misconduct” leveled against him....CONTINUE.FULL.READING>>>
The Nasarawa State Chief Judge who is Chairman of the Judicial Service Commission has issued a query to Hon. Vincent W. Gwahemba, Esq, the Chief Magistrate, Karu, for alleged bribery and abuse of office.
The query/suspension letter obtained by SaharaReporters on Saturday said the chief magistrate has 24 hours to respond the allegations of “gross misconduct” leveled against him.
“Following an allegation of gross misconduct, to wit, abuse of magisterial powers by one J.S. Okutepa SAN. As well as other allegations, I am directed by the Hon. Chief Judge/Chairman Judicial Service Commission to write and request for your response to the allegation within twenty-four (24) hours from the time you receive this letter.
“In the interim upon the receipt of this letter, you are to proceed on interdiction. The interdiction is with immediate effect pending determination of the allegation leveler against you. You will also be invited to make your representation before the Commission on a date that will be communicated to you. Thank you<” Yahaya Yakubu Shafa, the secretary wrote.
SaharaReporters had on Friday reported that the Judicial Service Commission suspended Gwahemba for alleged bribery and abuse of power.
Gwahemba’s suspension was announced in a letter dated January 30th, 2024, mandating the judicial official to provide responses within 24 hours to allegations of abuse of magisterial powers levelled against him by a senior lawyer, J.S. Okutepa, SAN.
According to the letter, Gwahemba is suspended with immediate effect until the misconduct charges are investigated.
He is expected to make appear before the Judicial Commission on a date to be later communicated to state his own side of the story.
The magistrate was accused in complaint number S/JSC/AD/OFF/12/VOL. XV/XXX and was addressed to the Chief Registrar of the state’s High Court of Justice over gross misconduct. He was also accused of being biased and giving a ruling for an unlawful detention of a suspect without any justification.
Meanwhile, the petition written by Okutepa, SAN, titled, “COMPLAINT OF PROFESSIONAL MISCONDUCT AND GROSS ABUSE OF OFFICE AGAINST CHIEF MAGISTRATE VINCENT GWAHEMBA OF CHIEF MAGISTRATE’S COURT, KARU” read, “We are counsel to Mr. Benjamin Joseph, who is a Defendant in the case of Inspector-General of Police vs. Benjamin Joesph (FCT/HC/CR/216/2016) pending before the High Court of Justice, Federal Capital Territory Abuja, hereinafter referred to as our client and we address this complaint to your lordship at his instance and instruction and we write to make this complaint against one Chief Magistrate Vincent Gwahemba.
“My lord, on the 25th day of January 2024, some policemen in plain clothes but armed to the teeth stormed the FCT High Court premises and abducted our client after our client’s appearance before the FCT High court for cross-examination in the case referred to above. The above case was filed at the instance and/or instigation of a company called Zinox Technologies Limited. The prosecutor in that case is Mr. Simon A. Lough, SAN who is a serving police officer representing the Inspector-General of Police before the FCT High Court. Soon after our client was cross-examined by Mr. Simon Lough, SAN, who is the prosecutor in the case, and the case adjourned to 25th March 2024, by his lordship, Hon. Justice Kekemeke, of FCT High Court No. 4, our client was subjected to harassment and arrested immediately after the conclusion of the court session.
“The individuals effecting the arrest purported themselves to be police officers from the Nasarawa State Police division and IRS Department of the Nigerian Police, office of the Inspector General of Police, Abuja.
“3. My lord, the arrest of our client was accompanied by a distressing incident of brutalization in the presence of our Chief J. S. Okutepa, SAN, Bencher and other lawyers. My lord, while we were engaging the police officers sent to arrest our client, at the instance of Chief Magistrate Vincent Gwahemba, another group of unidentified individuals arrived at the scene in a Sienna car, heavily armed, and actively participated in the harassment and subsequent arrest of our client.
“4. Our client was subsequently abducted forcefully into the sienna bus and whisked away to IRS office in Abuja. Indeed, in the processes of forcefully whisking our client away, our lawyers were molested and a phone belonging to our colleague in Chambers, Queen Judith-Alabi Esq, was forcefully taken away from her. Their commando style of action, made us to fear that they were kidnappers. We followed the vehicle in which our client was abducted to IRS office (former SARs Office) Abuja, where we were told our client was being taken to.
“5. My lord, upon arrival at the police station in Abuja, our Chief J. S. Okutepa, SAN, on behalf of our client sought to know the grounds for our client’s arrest and the specific allegations levelled against him. Unfortunately, neither our client nor his legal counsel was provided with any formal complaint. We were merely informed that Zinox Technologies Limited had lodged a direct criminal complaint of defamation against our client before the Chief Magistrates Court presided over by Vincent Gwahemba. Consequently, our client was detained thereat without the option of bail until the following day, the 26th of January 2024.
“6. My lord, on the 26th January 2024, our client was taken to Chief Magistrates Court Karu, where upon inquiries as to the reasons for the arrest and harassment of our client, we were shown a warrant of arrest issued by Mr Vincent Gwahemba who is said to be a Chief Magistrate sitting ni Karu, Nasarawa State. Upon further inquiries as to the nature of the offence committed by our client to warrant the kind of public harassment and embarrassing situations visited on him and dehumanizing degradation he suffered in the process of arrest, we were made to understand that Zinox Technologies Ltd had filed a DIRECT CRIMINAL COMPLAINT OF CRIMINAL DEFAMATION against our client before Magistrate Vincent Gwahemba.
“7. My lord, on the 26th day of January 2024, when our client was brought before the Chief Magistrate Court in Karu, where a complaint was purportedly filed against him, our client was represented by our Chief J. S. Okutepa, SAN, along with his colleagues, but regrettably, the presiding magistrate, Mr. Vincent Gwahemba, was not sitting and the Registrar of the Court was not of any help as she claimed that she cannot give us the complaint said to have been filed against our client.
“After making frantic efforts and making contact with his lordship in charge of High Court Karu Judicial Division, Mr Vincent Gwahenmba showed up at about 11.30am on the 26th January 2024 in his court.
“8. My lord, upon the magistrate’s arrival, our Chief J. S. Okutepa, SAN, led other lawyers to meet the learned Chief Magistrate in chambers whereof we expressed our grave concerns regarding the irregularities surrounding the arrest of our client and the unlawful manner in which he was being persecuted. My lord astonishingly, it was revealed during our meeting in Chambers that the very magistrate had issued the arrest warrant against our client when the purported Direct Criminal complaint was never served on our client. The Chief Magistrate according to him was yet to take cognizance of the complaint.
“9. My lord, the warrant of arrest was issued without our client being served the complaint and even when we asked for the copy of the complaint, the learned chief Magistrate had none to give us, as he claimed the complaint had been sent to Police Area Command Lafia. My lord, it became glaringly evident to us at that moment that no complaints had been filed against our client and even if such complaints had been filed, it had not been served on our client. In light of these profoundly troubling circumstances, we beseeched Mr Vincent Gwahemba to direct the immediate release of our client pending when the complaint will be served on our client and to afford him an opportunity to prepare for his defence.
“10. My lord, Mr. Vincent Gwahemba, promised to do the right thing about the situation and gave such assurances to our Chief J.S. Okutepa, SAN, who then left other lawyers to follow through the promises, only for the magistrate, despite not having any complaint or charge served on our client to refuse to order his release. Rather he ordered the continuous detention of our client at Lafia, outside his magisterial jurisdiction. Worthy of note is that ti was brought to the attention of the Magistrate that our client was defending a charge before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory which emanated from the same complainant, on the same subject matter.
“11. My lord, we have instruction of our client to write this complaint. We agreed to do so and we now so do it on the following grounds to wit: a. It appears Mr. Vicent Gwahenmba, does not know law or he knows the law but has deliberately compromised his magisterial powers for reasons far outside the purity of justice.
“b. M.r Vincent Gwahenmba, willfully, knowingly and recklessly abused his magisterial powers when he ordered that our client be taken to 4. We place our trust in your unwavering commitment ot justice and the rule of law, and we eagerly anticipate your expeditious action in this matter so as to dispel the impression that Vincent Gwahemba or any staff of the judiciary enjoys the protection of the judicial authorities in Nasarawa State, when they engage ni unethical, unlawful actions and abuse of magisterial powers for pecuniary interest or any interest outside pure and undiluted justice. We so pray your lordship. Please accept the assurances of our professional regard.”…CONTINUE. FULL.READING>>>