Robinson Uwak, a candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2015 House of Reps election in Akwa Ibom State, has accused Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of openly and shamelessly acting as a lawyer for Bassey Ekpeyong, a member of the House of Representatives who is a defendant in a lawsuit alleging that he a forged academic certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
In a statement released yesterday in reaction to questionable behavior by Justice Dimgba, Mr. Uwak pointed out that the judge assumed the role of counsel to Mr. Ekpeyong. According to the plaintiff, the judge had assumed the role of advocate for Mr. Ekpeyong, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He added that the judge’s brazen partiality was a source of scandal and shock to lawyers and spectators, including a lawyer representing INEC.
Noting that Justice Dimgba was one of the judges under investigation for corruption, Mr. Uwak remarked, “The leopard can never loose its spots goes a popular saying. This is obviously the case with Justice Nnamdi Dimgba who only was recently named and investigated along with other judges on allegations of corruption.” He added that the judge seemed to view himself as akin to “infamous New York mafia boss John Joseph Gotti, Jr. who is famed as the man who thought he could walk on water thus wearing a mindset of being inapprehensible and consequently above the law.”
The plaintiff condemned Justice Dimgba’s unethical conduct since the judge began eight months ago to hear a lawsuit accusing Mr. Ekpenyong of submitting forged Ordinary National Diploma (OND) certificate to INEC when he ran as a candidate in the 2015 general election. Under Nigeria’s electoral laws, if it is established that the legislator presented a fraudulent certificate, he automatically loses his seat in the House of Representatives.
Mr. Uwak criticized Justice Dimgba’s “daring and brazen show of shame especially during the proceedings of today Friday the 3rd of February 2017.” He continued, “Justice Nnamdi Dimgba's conduct today was as if he was determined not to loose out on a bribe money either collected or promised by the first defendant as he literally came off the sacred seat of a judge to join the legal team of the first defendant, Hon. Nse Ekpenyong, a sitting member of the House of Representatives, drowning in a messy case of forgery having forged an OND certificate of Abia State University which he presented to the Independent National Electoral Commission to qualify him to contest and proceed to the Nigerian House Of Representatives illegally.”
Mr. Uwak stated that the judge’s conduct was “comparable to dancing naked in the market square or defecating right in the courtroom,” adding that the judge shamelessly put words into the mouth of the counsel to Hon. Nse Ekpenyong and recorded same.” According to Mr. Uwak, the judge also viciously attacked the sound legal arguments made by counsel to the plaintiff and counsel to INEC respectively.
The plaintiff said the moment of shame came when his lawyer began to raise pertinent points of law in response to a motion for stay of proceedings served on him in court yesterday, adding that the motion was a clear effort to stall the hearing of the substantive suit scheduled for hearing yesterday. He asserted that, despite being ambushed by the motion, his lawyer was able to marshal solid arguments against it, adding that Mr. Ekpeyong’s defense counsel was so dumbfounded and rattled that he “stood speechless as Justice Nnamdi Dimgba from the bench made submissions on his behalf.”
Mr. Uwak accused the judge of trying to intimidate the INEC counsel for desiring a fair and accelerated hearing of the forgery case. He praised the INEC lawyer for urging Justice Dimgba to hear all applications and motions along with the substantive suit in the interest of justice, adding the compromised judge’s response was to bully the INEC lawyer “as if to say mind your business.”
The plaintiff called on Nigerians, “especially advocates of justice and equity,” to join him in court on the next adjourned date February 10, 2017 “to be witnesses to Justice Nnamdi Dimgba’s embarrassing show of shame and unprofessional conduct unbecoming of a jurist.” He also asked law enforcement agencies, including the Directorate of State Security (DSS), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and the police to demand for the video/audio recording of yesterday’s proceedings in order to investigate “the financial tune Justice Dimgba is brazenly and shamefully dancing to.”
Further substantiating the judge’s bizarre conduct, Mr. Uwak noted that Justice Dimgba, in an apparent attempt to derail his forgery lawsuit, had permitted two parties to join the case even though it was clear that the said parties were “strangers” with nothing at stake in the lawsuit. He disclosed that, on January 24, 2017, Justice Dimgba had allowed one Christopher Esin, a male whose lawyer shares the same office space and address with Mr. Ekpeyong’s counsel, to join the case ostensibly as the candidate of Accord Party in the House of Representatives election of March 28, 2015 for the Oron/Mbo/Okobo/Urefong-Oruko/Udung-Uko seat. According to Mr. Uwak, Mr. Esin’s sworn affidavit to join the suit was clearly fraudulent as “a certified True Copy of [a] list of candidates [in] the election released by Independent National Electoral Commission and presented to Justice Nnamdi Dimgba shows that a female, Mrs. Edidiong Augustine, was the bona fide candidate for Accord Party for the election.” He accused Justice Dimgba of ignoring “this act of perjury, forgery and deceit before the court,” and said the judge permitted Mr. Esin to join the suit in order to achieve the judge’s “sinister motive.”
The same day, Justice Dimgba also admitted the People's Democratic Party (PDP) as a party in the case, said Mr. Uwak. He noted that the PDP’s counsel “also shares the same office as that of Hon. Nse Ekpenyong and further shares LEGAL PRACTICE SEAL with counsel to Hon. Nse Ekpenyong. The same had appeared for Hon. Nse Ekpenyong on the 18th of November 2016 and now suddenly rebranded to appear for the Peoples Democratic Party. Again Justice Dimgba pretended not to notice this unprofessional action and conduct despite heaps of evidence placed before him.”
Mr. Uwak pointed accused Justice Dimgba of being sponsored by Mr. Ekpenyong “to subvert justice by refusing to hear the substantive suit thereby buying time for Sponsor to complete a four year tenure which he forged his way into.”
Mr. Uwak stated that his case centered around Section 66(1) i and Section 68(1) b of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which “clearly spell out the consequence for presenting a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission.” He noted that, once a case of certificate forgery was proved, the concerned senator or member of the House of Representatives must vacate his seat. He accused Justice Dimgba of engaging in maneuvers in order to avoid ruling to implement the law.