With respect to your Lordship,

I shall begin this letter with this apt quotation from Justice Mustapha Dahiru, the 13th Chief Justice of Nigeria, who once remarked thus:

“Metaphorically, an unjust judge is more harmful to the society than a man who runs amok with a dagger in a crowded street. The latter as you know can be restrained physically, but the former deliberately destroys the moral foundation of the society and causes incalculable distress to individuals, while still answering HONOURABLE”.

My Lord, I am not without the knowledge that you are the grandmaster in the courtroom, and as such your decisions are welcome with “as the court pleases”, however unjust or just such decisions maybe.

My Lord, I was in your court on Thursday, 26th day of January, 2017 and I was privileged to see you presiding over the fundamental human rights suit between the National Open University and some students activists, expelled for forming an association and for exercising their constitutional rights to freedom of expression and the press. I consequently listened to your strange ruling on the application to “arrest” judgement filed by the University after the matter had been heard and reserved for judgement.

My Lord, I was utterly frozen with shock when you ruled that an application to arrest the judgement of a court is a proper application. I struggled to dispel the sound of your voice in the firm belief that it was one of the most terrible nightmares I was having in broad daylight. Alas, I was not asleep! It was a strange reality staring into my ancient face without a blink. Not only did you give life to such an application, you also decided that the matter starts afresh after 11 (eleven) adjournments in a fundamental rights case!

My Lord, allow me to prove you wrong, for I know that I have the freedom to do so only outside of the courtroom. An application to “arrest” judgement does not exist in the Nigerian legal system. It is not a recognised application and therefore has no place in Nigeria’s jurisprudence. An application not brought in line with the rules of court faces only one destiny – to be dismissed and struck out, sometimes with substantial costs. I refer My Lord to the case of IKOLI LTD VS S.P.D.C.N. LTD (2008)12 NWLR [PT1101]425, where it was held as follows:

“The court has an inherent jurisdiction to ensure compliance by litigants with the rules of court and would strike out any process not filed in compliance with the relevant rules.”

Is your Lordship aware of the fact that the Appeal and Supreme Courts have consistently held that arresting a judgement about to be delivered by a court is an unknown procedure in Nigeria’s jurisprudence? Your Lordship may wish to research the case of: S.I.E.C. EKITI STATE VS N.C.P. (2008)12 NWLR [PT1102]733 where it was held as follows:

“The rules of court do not make provisions for an application for an arrest of judgment which is about to be delivered by a court. An application not recognized by the rules of court cannot be described as a proper application.”

My Lord may wish to make further research to the Supreme Court case between NEWSWATCH COMMUNICATIONS LTD vs ALHAJI ALIYU ATTA.

My Lord, as consistently established by the Supreme Court, you were without the jurisdiction or competence to entertain an application aimed to “arrest” a judgement about to be delivered. Also, My Lord, by the doctrine of stare decisis in Law, you were duty bound to follow the steps already established by the Supreme Court. May I, for the last time, refer My Lord to the case of REGISTERED TRUSTEES OF MISSION VS ALL STATES TRUST BANK (2003) F.W.L.R. (PT. 172) 1809, where the apex court stated thus:

“Where facts of a case decided by a higher court are similar or same with those in a case before a trial court, the trial court ought to and indeed MUST follow the decision of the higher court. It is not for the lower court to perambulate or create artificial distinction in order not to follow or apply the decision of the higher court to solve a similar case before it”

With respect My Lord, your decision to grant the “arrest” of judgement was an injustice to the other party in the suit. You owe the expelled Applicants an unreserved apology.

My Lord, corruption, oppression and dictatorship continue to grow bolder in Nigeria without the slightest challenge because our judicial system itself stinks of utter corruption and needs urgent reform. This is why I have consistently insisted that a complete overhaul of our judiciary is needed if we are indeed serious about building a society wherein justice will reign supreme among all things.

My Lord, I seriously look forward to a day when the Nigerian judiciary, the most important arm of government in any serious nation, will realise that justice is not only for the powerful people in our society but that it is also the birthright of the most “wretched” citizens of this nation.

I rest my case, Sir.

Yours faithfully,

Thomas Orim

Federal High Court

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