As The Enugu Division Of The Nigeria’s Court Of Appeal Is Widely Accused Of Being Soaked In Judicial Iniquities, Intersociety Demands For Your Distinguished Council’s Investigations Into The Administrative Conducts Of The Justices Posted To The Division & The Judgment In: CA/E/EPT/66A/2008 & CA/E/EPT/66B/2008
Honourable Justice Aloysius Katsina Alu
Chairman, National Judicial Council &
Chief Justice of Nigeria
The NJC Headquarters
Supreme Court Complex
Your Lordship, Above subject matters refers.
On April 21, 2007, Barrister Mrs. Edith Ejezie of the ANPP and wife of the ANPP’s governorship candidate in the February 2010 governorship poll in Anambra State, Southeast Nigeria, Ichie Mike Ejezie, and one Chief Raphael Okeke of the PDP, among other political parties’ candidates, went to poll to contest for the Anambra East/West Federal Constituency Seat, and at the end of the exercise in the area’s 25 electoral wards, the Independent National Electoral Commission, declared the said Chief Raphael Okeke winner. Unsatisfied, Mrs. Edith Ejezie approached the Anambra State National Legislative Election Tribunal to challenge what she considered to be wrongful declaration of her main opponent, Chief Okeke of the PDP. The matter lasted at the Tribunal from May 2007 to May 2008, a period of one year. At the end, the Tribunal, headed by Honourable Justice James Abriyi, in its landmark judgment, delivered on May 15, 2008, held that Chief Okeke was not validly elected. It also made a finding of fact that Mrs. Edith Ejezie scored the highest number of lawful votes cast, by scoring 18,694 valid votes as against Chief Okeke’s 6,838 valid votes. But the Tribunal erroneously refused to return Mrs. Edith Ejezie as validly elected, having scored the highest number of lawful votes cast. Instead, it reportedly went outside its scope by ordering that a fresh poll be held in the Anambra West area of the Constituency, whereas in legislative election, what is required is not spread, but highest number of lawful votes.
These resulted to lodging of the main and cross appeals by the duo of Chief Raphael Okeke and Mrs. Edith Ejezie at the Registry of the Court of Appeal, Enugu Division on 4th day of June 2008. Mrs. Edith Ejezie prayed the Court to uphold the Tribunal’s main decision and set aside the issue of her non-return as validly elected and a re-run in the Anambra West part of the Constituency, while Chief Okeke urged the Court to dismiss the entire decisions and uphold his INEC’s declaration. The matter suffered twelve adjournments before we got notice of its pendency in May 2010, during our investigation into the 2007 elections’ cases that were still pending before the various Divisions of the Court of Appeal in Nigeria, especially the Enugu Division. Even after we have adopted it as our case-study and written severally to the Court of Appeal President, the matter further suffered five more adjournments from May 25, 2010, when we wrote our first letter, to 14th day of December 2010, when the yam-peeled judgment was delivered. Prior to this judicially suicidal judgment, the Court of Appeal President, via the Chief Registrar of the Court of Appeal, wrote us on the 17th day of August 2010 over the said pending cases including the instant case, and the Attorney General of the Federation & Minister for Justice, also wrote us to inform us that his office had written to the Court of Appeal President, asking him to take care of our third letter to him, dated 6th day of August 2010. The AGF letter was dated 31st day of August 2010.
Judicially Suicidal Judgment
We wrote seven letters in all with strong evidence that all of them were duly received by those they were meant for, starting from our 25th day of May, 2010 letter to our last letter, dated 9th day of December, 2010. The matter: CA/E/EPT/66A/2008 & CA/E/EPT/66B/2008(Raphael Okeke v Barr. Mrs. Edith Ejezie), was adopted and reserved for judgment on 29th day of September 2010. And it was presided over by Justice Amina Augie, who is also the Presiding Judge of the Division, with Justices Samia and Aboki as her co-panelists. Not minding that the matter had lasted for two years and three months at the Enugu Division of the Court of Appeal, that is from June 4, 2008 to 29th day of September 2010 when it was reserved for judgment, its judgment never came and was irresponsibly delayed again for two- and- a- half months or seventy-five days (from September 29, 2010 when it was reserved for verdict, to December 14, 2010 when its yam-peeled verdict was given). The Presiding Judge, who also presided over the matter, reportedly traveled overseas on 24th day of October, 2010, came back and resumed work on Monday, 29th day of November 2010, without ensuring that the judgment was prepared and delivered when she was in overseas. Added to one year it lasted at the Tribunal, the matter lasted for a total of three- and- a- half years or forty-two months, thereby making it one of the longest legislative election petition matters, if not the longest in Nigeria’s history. Worried by the total abandonment of the said judgment by the trio of Justices Amina Augie, Aboki and Samia, we addressed another letter, dated 6th day of December, 2010, to the Presiding Judge, Justice Amina Augie, reminding her of the express provisions of Section 294 and 294(2) of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999, and on Wednesday, 8th day of December, 2010, the Division communicated the judgment date to the parties. Section 294 gives mandatory and maximum of 90 days to any court established under the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 to deliver a judgment, while Section 294(2) makes it inexcusable for a verdict not to be delivered simply because a judge, who presided, is absent. We believed strongly that the judgment was rushed and delivered so as to avoid breaching the mandatory ninety days stipulated by Section 294 of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999. The so-called judgment was delivered on its seventy-fifth day, about two weeks to the mandatory ninety days.
In the said judgment, delivered only by Justice Aboki on 14th December, 2010, within twenty-minutes, he told those of us who witnessed the judgment proceedings that “in law, judgment can be delivered even after the four-year tenure has expired”. He was obviously reacting to the widely published complaints associated with delays meted out to the instant case. As suspected, the Tribunal’s landmark judgment was irresponsibly upturned. Suspicions of the judgment being a mercantilist one became evident when the Judge( Aboki) announced that he was reading Justice Samia’s judgment(thought to be a minority judgment), without making any reference(s) to the judgmental positions of the two other Justices( Augie & himself(Aboki). In the twenty minutes verdict, nowhere in the verdict paper did he cite the views of himself and the Presiding Judge. He simply told the parties to come back on Monday, 20th day of December, 2010 for the collection of the judgment. It is seriously suspected that before the date, the judgment would be re-written to capture the concurrence of the trio. Falsehood is always a product of passivity and a corrupt professor is always in the habit of exhibiting professorial idiocy! Funny enough, the same Division of the Court of Appeal had in another case, comprising ten main appeals, cross-appeals or/and interlocutory appeals, involving the Anambra 2010 Governorship election matter, consolidated the entire appeals, heard, adopted and reserved them for judgment all in one day. The proceedings took place on Monday, 13th day of December, 2010.
It is our firm position that the judgment under review is judicially suicidal, provocative, anti-social, anti-electoral, mercantilist and vendetta-driven. Dishearteningly, the Enugu Division of the Court of Appeal appears to be leading other fourteen Divisions in judicial iniquity. Apart from housing the highest number of undecided election matters in Nigeria, which largely arose from the 2007 general elections, its rulings in recent times are far from being founded on, or rooted in merit, courage and judicial or jurisprudential professionalism. Empirical pieces of evidence abound in quantum in this respect. From contradictory judgments in Mr. Emmanuel Ubah’s governorship suits, to Senator Joy v Mr. Alphonsus Igbeke’s case, the list is endless. Our critical assessment of all the 2007 election matters decided by the Court so far showed that many, if not most of them were anchored on “facts on the judge’s desk”, not minding whether such “ facts” are products of crookedness or not. Judges are now dinner-makers in Lagos, Abuja, etc, where the prices of court judgments especially those involving election matters are negotiated or bargained for. Is it correct to say that the prices for the judgment in the instant case were bargained for in a dinner(s) in Lagos on the grounds that he who pays the piper dictates the tune?
It is also our firm position that no judge currently sitting in the Enugu Division merits being promoted to the Supreme Court, not to talk of being made the Appeal Court President. It may be correct to say that the Division is the black sheep of the fifteen Divisions of the Court in Nigeria; unfortunately, the headship of the Honourable Justice Ayo Isa Salami appears to be powerless in taming these excesses. We posit that the Division must be urgently overhauled and cleansed by Your Distinguished Council. We also wish to use this medium to advise those that have pending matters before the Division, especially those who are truly pursuing justice, anchored on equity and good conscience to be vigilant and be proactively watchful over their matters there because we can longer understand the dancing tunes of the Division in the judicial scheme of things.
We also wish to seize this opportunity to thank immensely the family of Ejezie for being steadfast and principled, which saw them resiliently defending the sacred mandate so given for three-and-and-a-half years. We also thank in unquantifiable terms the immense roles played by Nigerian Media, especially Mr. Innocent Anaba of Vanguard Group of Newspapers and their Law & Human Rights family, Punch and Thisday Columns, the Insiderweekly and the Source Magazines, Champion, Compass, the Nation and Sun Newspapers as well as Saharareporters Online News Agency, Odera Igbo Online Media Group, etc. We must ensure that this case, even though it is lost in the hands of the unholy apostles of the dark ages, is used to sanitize the Division and bring it back to the glorious epoch of the likes of Honourable Justice James Ogebe, etc.
The following documents are attached for Your Distinguished Council’s perusal and necessary action:
1. Intersociety’s letter to the President of the Court of Appeal, dated 25/05/2010 and referenced: Intersociety/NG/Vol.02/05/2010/CA/ABJ/FRN; 2. Intersociety’s second letter to the President of the Court of Appeal, dated 06/08/2010 and referenced: Intersociety/Vol.03/08/2010/CA/Hqrs/ABJ/FRN; 3. Intersociety’s third letter to the President of the Court of Appeal, dated 17/09/2010 and referenced: Intersociety/Nig/Vol.04/09/2010/CA/P/ABJ/FRN; 4. Intersociety’s forth letter to the Court of Appeal President, dated 29/10/2010 and referenced: Intersociety/CA/Hqrs/ABJ/FRN/Vol.05/10/2010; 5. Intersociety’s letter to the Presiding Judge, Court of Appeal, Enugu Division, dated 06/12/2010 and referenced: Intersociety/Vol.01/12/2010/CA/EN/D/NIG; 6. Intersociety’s fifth letter to the President of the Court of Appeal, dated 08/12/2010 and referenced: Intersociety/Vol.06/12/2010/CA/ABJ/NIG; and 7. Intersociety’s forwarding letter to the Presiding Judge, Court of Appeal, Enugu Division, dated 09/12/2010 and referenced: Intersociety/Vol.02/12/2010/CA/EN/D/NIG. We also attach copies of letters addressed to us by the Attorney General of the Federation & Minister for Justice, dated 31st day of August 2010 & referenced: HAGF/FCA/2010/Vol.01; and the Court of Appeal President, via the Chief Registrar of the Court, Mr. Aliyu Ibrahim, dated 17/08/201 and referenced:CA/173/Vol.XV.
Our writing Your Distinguished Council is in line with Section 20 of the Third Schedule, Part 1 of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999. Section 21(b) of the said Schedule empowers Your Distinguished Council to “recommend to the president the removal from office of the judicial officers specified in sub-paragraph (a) of this paragraph (including the President and Justices of the Court of Appeal)”, and to exercise disciplinary control over such officers” Section 21(f)(g)&(i) of the same Third Schedule also empowers Your Distinguished Council to “advise the President on any matter pertaining to the judiciary as may be referred to the Council by him or her”, “appoint, dismiss and exercise disciplinary control over members and staff of the Council”, and “to deal with all other matters relating to broad issues of policy and administration”.
The express import of this widely damnable judgment by Justice Aboki is that it encourages the election riggers to rig on. It will also be difficult for the victim of this judicial malady to play by the rules. Such judgment encourages the affected persons to resort to self-help mechanisms, which is traditionally what the courts are created to address.
We respectfully pray Your Distinguished Council to investigate all the condemnable and unethical conducts complained of and met out the appropriate sanctions to the affected senior judicial officers if found liable.For ease of contact, the correspondence particulars of our key officers and Ichie Mike Ejezie/Barrister Mrs. Edith Ejezie are enclosed. The duo may have some vital information regarding the mercantilist conducts of some senior judicial officers being suspected.
We sincerely and respectfully trust in Your Distinguished Council’s prompt and meritorious attention to this letter.
Board of Trustees
Email: [email protected]
Comrade Justus Ijeoma
Head, Publicity Desk