Justice Judith Agbakoba of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) yesterday withdrew from the case between the Nigerian Army and a dismissed military officer, Ijeoma Nwokolo, following allegation of bias.
Justice Agbakoba noted that the issue of bias raised against her was fundamental and therefore announced her decision to handover the matter to the President of the court.
Nwokolo is challenging compulsory dismissal of the affected military officers in 2016, without fair hearing.
Counsel to the Nigerian Army and the Chief of Defence Staff, Tukur Buratai,
Michael Owolabi, had accused Agbakoba of bias, as she was about to read her judgement on the matter.
After the applicant, Ijeoma closed his case in May, the defence team, refused to open their defence.
Sequel to this, Agbakoba for-closed the defence team, as the court would no longer allow the defence to further delay the judgement.
Meanwhile, Owolabi asked the judge to recuse herself, following the decision of the court to for-close the defence team in October.
He also said a petition had been written against the judge and sent to the President of the National Industrial Court.
“Justice is rooted in confidence, My Lord. One of the parties appearing before your lordship has lost confidence,” Mr Owolabi said.
The lawyer further opined that it would be in the interest of justice and fair play for the judge to hand over the matter, until the Industrial Court President transfers the case to another judge.