Black weekend: Supreme Court, Federal High Court lose judges

IT was a black weekend for the Nigerian judiciary following the death of two judges of the Supreme Court and the Federal High Court.

The two justices who passed on during the weekend are Chima Nweze of the Supreme Court of Nigeria and Peter Mallong of the Federal High Court.

Nweze reportedly died on the evening of Sunday, July 30, at the age of 64. A native of Obollo, in Udenu Local Government Area of Enugu State, he was born on September 25, 1958.


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The spokesman of the Supreme Court, Festus Akande, confirmed Nweze’s passing, according to multiple reports on Monday.

Justice Chima Centus Nweze 

Nweze became very popular following his dissenting judgment in 2020, which opposed the declaration of Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as winner of the 2019 governorship election in Imo State.

He held that Uzodinma’s proclamation as governor was invalid due to “wrong declaration”, noting that the APC candidate misled the court by showing ballots in 388 polling units that had not been checked.

The late jurist was also one of the justices that rejected the request by Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to view the server of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in order to contest the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2019 presidential election.

Also, in a split judgment of three against two, Nweze delivered the contentious Supreme Court ruling which declared Ahmad Lawan, the then-President of the Senate, as the legitimate candidate of the APC for Yobe North Senatorial District in the 2023 general elections.

Nweze was the court of appeals’ fifth-most senior justice before his elevation to the Supreme Court.

With his passing, the number of judges on the Supreme Court fell to 12, far less than the maximum of 21 allowed by statute.

He has held positions as a member of the Ondo State Local Government Election Petition Tribunal in 1999, chairman of the Ogun State Governorship and Legislative Houses Election Petition Tribunal, and chairman of the Nsukka Robbery and Guns Tribunal in 1998 and 1999.

Nweze was promoted to the Court of Appeal on February 15, 2008, where he remained till his appointment to the Nigerian Supreme Court on October 29, 2014.

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The National Judicial Council (NJC) recommended that Nweze be appointed to the Supreme Court in 2014. The administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan accepted the recommendation.

Justice Peter Mallong

Peter Mallong, a justice of the Federal High Court, also passed on during the weekend.

Mallong reportedly died on Sunday after a brief illness. He was 60 years old.




     

     

    He was born on January 21, 1963 in Yauri, Kebbi State.

    The Chief Registrar Federal High Court of Nigeria, Hassan Sulaiman, confirmed his passing in a statement on Monday, July 31.

    The statement reads: “It is with deep sadness and heavy hearts that we announce the death of our own, Hon. Justice Peter Hoommuk Mallong, a judge of the Federal High Court, who passed away on July 30 2023, unexpectedly after a brief illness in Abuja.

    “We will miss him more than words can express. Funeral arrangements will be communicated to the public in due time.”

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