May I with the greatest respect, deepest sense of responsibility and in pursuant to the instruction of my clients, Dr. Chris Nwachukwu and Hon. Julius C. Nosike, the Petitioners in the above stated Petition write this letter to your Lordship.
Sir, it is worthy of note that following the holding of the Governorship Election in Anambra State on the 6th February, 2010, Your Lordship in exercise of your Constitutional Powers Constituted a Governorship Election Tribunal of five (5) members headed by Hon. Justice Pius Damulak who is a judge at the Plateau State Judiciary to hear and determine Petitions arising from the said election. My clients are candidates in the said election who, been dissatisfied with the outcome of the election filed their petition on the 8th day of March, 2010, there were also other Petitions filed by other parties and political Parties that took part in the said election with their different issues, facts and circumstance of their own Petition.
One of the Parties that filed a Petition before the Tribunal is Hope Democratic Party (HDP) which challenged the election and return of the incumbent Governor and the candidate of All Progressive Grand alliance (APGA) Mr. Peter Obi on sole ground that “he never secure ¼ of all the votes cast in 2/3 of 21 Local Government Areas in Anambra State”. It is also worthy of note that this ground forms part of the grounds in all the other Petitions filed by the aggrieved Parties including my clients own petition at the Tribunal.
The Tribunal at the end of pre-hearing sessions in our Petition, formulated the issues arising from our Petition for determination, which same is reproduce thus:
“Whether having regard to the provisions of section 179 (2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution, and the electoral Act, 2006, the 1st respondent was duly elected and/or returned as Governor of Anambra State at the election conducted on the 6th day of February, 2010”.
The Tribunal on the 23rd day of June, 2010 proceeded to hear our Petition on its individual merit. The Tribunal refused to make order for consolidation upon the oral application of DR. ONYEACHI IKPEAZU, SAN counsel for the 1st-3rd Respondents in that the Tribunal wanted to hear and determine each Petition one after the other and on their specific merit.
My Lord, the confidence of my clients on the said panel was dashed on the 27th day of July 2010 when the Tribunal delivered its first judgment in the Petition filed by Hope Democratic Party. In the marathon judgment which lasted over seven (7) hours, the Tribunal made a far reaching findings of facts including that Mr. Peter Obi Secured ¼ of all the votes cast in 2/3 of 21 Local Government Areas of Anambra State. The Tribunal went further to state that even if there was an admission by the witness called by Mr. Peter Obi that he did not secure ¼ of all votes cast in 2/3 of 21 Local Government Areas of Anambra State, the Tribunal will not accept such admission.
With this decision, the question that my clients are now asking is, can the Tribunal headed by Hon. Justice Paul Damulak in all fairness over-rule itself in the Petition of my clients pending before it on the same issue for determination already determined by this judgment? Our clients on their own make bold to answer in the negative.
In view of this mindset of the Tribunal, will it be fair to my clients who are Petitioners before the Tribunal to conclude their case before this Tribunal? Can this Tribunal sit on appeal and reverse its finding of fact that Peter Obi won the election and that he indeed satisfied section 179 (2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. My clients equally answer is in the negative.
My Lord, it is trite and notorious fact that justice is rooted in the trust, faith and confidence of the ordinary men on the street on the Judiciary. A situation where a fiat accompli has been placed on the Petition of my clients pending before this Tribunal is a breach of right of fair hearing. My clients are entitled to the safe guards provided in section 36 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. These safe guards include the right against likelihood of bias by the Tribunal.
May we, on the instruction of our client and in consideration of facts stated above, pray to your lordship in the interest of fair hearing, justice and equity to disband the present Tribunal Chairmaned by Hon. Justice Damulak and reconstitute same with another Panel to conclude the Petition of my clients at the Tribunal. My Lord, I am fortified in this direction by the dictum of Lord Denning M. R. in the most often cited case of Metropolitan properties vs Lannon (1969) 1QB 577 at page 599.
“In considering whether there was a real likelihood of bias, the Court does not look at the mind of justice himself or at the mind of the chairman of the Tribunal, or whoever it may be, who sits in the Judicial capacity. It does not look to see if there was a real likelihood that he would, or did, in fact favour one side at the expense of the other. The Court looks at the impression which would be given to other people. Even if he was as impartial as could be, nevertheless, if right minded persons would think that, in the circumstances, there was a real likelihood of bias on his part, then, he should not sit. And if he does sit, his decision cannot stand. The Court will not require whether he did, in fact, favour one side unfairly suffice it that reasonable people might think he did. The reason is plain enough. Justice must be rooted in confidence, and confidence is destroyed when right minded people go away thinking the judge was biased”.
My lord, the psychological pains my clients went through over the conduct and outcome of the said election and are still going through in the prosecution of this Petition is enormous. It is on this note that my clients did not want a repeat of the same at the Tribunal.
Therefore, we most graciously thank your Lordship for your favourable anticipated consideration of issues raised in this letter while we expect your Lordship timely action before the next adjourned date of 18th August, 2010 for adoption of written addresses.
I further attached the report of the Tribunal on pre-Trial session which contains the said issue for determination at page 7.
MAY IT PLEASE MY LORD
MAX IHEUKWU NJOKU ESQ
SOLICITOR TO THE PETITIONERS
MAX IHEUKWU NJOKU & ASSOCIATES
BARRISTER & SOLICITORS, CORPORATE CONSULTANT
52 Brans Street, Aba, Abia State, Nigeria
Tel: 08035503465, 082227948
Our Ref: - Your Ref: -- Date: 4th August, 2010
COURT OF APPEAL
THREE ARMS ZONE COMPLEX
CENTRAL AREA, ABUJA
IN RE: PETITION NO; EPT/G/AN/3/2010
1. DR. OKOLI CHRIS NWACHUKWU
2. HON. JULIUS C. NOSIKE PETITIONERS
1. MR PETER OBI
2. MR EMEKA SIBUDU
3. ALL PROGRESSIVE GRAND ALLIANCE (APGA) RESPONDENTS
4. INDEPENDENT ELECTORAL COMMISSION
(INEC) & 4589 ORS
1st – 3rd RESPONDENTS
C/O THEIR SOLICITOR
DR. ONYEACHI IKPEAZU SAN
NO.46 OGUTA ROAD
ONITSHA, ANAMBRA STATE
C/O THEIR SOLICITOR
J.T.U. NNODUM SAN
INEC HEADQUARTERS, AWKA, ANAMBRA STATE