CROSS RIVER, Nigeria – The Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) Calabar Branch, Cross River State has declared that if the employment of the 29 protesting magistrates engaged by the Cross River State Government is illegal and fraudulent, all the judgments they delivered have equally become nullity.
Speaking on Thursday, the Chairman of NBA, Calabar Branch, Bar Paul Ebiala stated that if the employment of the 29 protesting magistrates is illegal and fraudulent as alleged by the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in the State, the judgement they delivered in the past two years is also a nullity as they have no jurisdiction.
The Attorney General had alleged that the employment of the 29 magistrates was fraudulent as the State Governor, Prof Ben Ayade did not authorise or approve it.
He had also threatened to sue the magistrates.
But reacting, the NBA chairman said, “We are talking about implications because I didn’t participate in the employment, I don’t know what they saw that they were alleging fraud, until the facts are revealed.
“The only thing I can say in the circumstance is the implication of what the Attorney General said, simply, if their appointments were fraudulent and illegal, then of course they have no jurisdiction to sit when they were sitting, that is the meaning.
“What the Attorney General said on behalf of the Governor means, therefore, that all the judgments that had been delivered by these magistrates would be a nullity because they have no jurisdiction to sit in that capacity.
“Until the person is employed properly, following due process, he cannot assume the function of a judicial officer, you cannot assume such office if you are not employed properly and documented by a proper agency of government, Until we get to the bottom of it, we don’t know who is speaking the truth.”
“The only thing why the NBA is involved is that people who were lawyers, who are now magistrates and judges, are affected, they cannot go there and talk, we will take it as a responsibility to talk on their behalf.
“The other thing we can do is that if they want to go to court, National Industrial Court to challenge whatever may come, we can assist by raising a team of lawyers free of charge to defend the magistrates,” he reiterated.