The Committee of Peoples Democratic Party House Representatives Members -Elect in Anambra state has fired a petition to the National Judicial Council, NJC, alleging that Justice AFA Ademola of the Federal High Court, tampered with the Certified True Copy of a judgment he delivered.
In the petition, the group accuses the judge of bias, noting that the judgment read in open court is at variance with written copy.
In effect, the Judge is alleged to have smuggled a verdict not declared in open court into the Certified True Copy, CTC in the suit between Senator Annie Clement Okonkwo & 43 Ors vs INEC & 22 ors.
Titled : ‘Justice AFA Ademola, a case of judicial perfidy, manifest corruption ,judicial impertinence ,miscarriage of justice, via, judgment read in open court at variance with written judgment Re: Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/177/2015: Senator Annie Clement Okonkwo & 43 Ors Vs INEC and 22 Ors,’.
The petitioners began by saying “We write as the House of Representatives Members elect of Peoples Democratic Party Anambra State whose names were substituted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC after same had been published in accordance with the Electoral Act 2010 as amended. “They said they are all co-plaintiffs in the above named suit.
The petition addressed to the Chairman NJC, who doubles as the Chief Justice of Nigeria has been delivered and appropriately acknowledged by the office of the Chief Justice of Nigeria. The office received it on 20th July 2016.
According to the petition, “Your Lordship’s attention is therefore drawn to the above subject matter and we wish to restate our anger and displeasure at the way and manner Hon. Justice A.F.A Ademola conducted himself through the pendency of the above suit and the resultant decision he delivered on Friday 8th July 2016, more so judgment read in open Court is at variance with written judgment, certified true copy of which was released on Wednesday 113th July, 2016.
The case, the petitioner said commenced before late Justice E.S Chukwu by originating summons filed on 27th day of February 2015 against INEC.
“On 20/3/2015 upon application by Chief Arthur Obi Okafor, SAN Counsel to 2nd -4th Defendants(Dr Andy Uba, Hon Uche Ekwunife and Princess Stella Oduah), urging Hon Justice Chukwu to disqualify himself of the matter , the case was transferred to Hon Justice A.F.A Ademola on the order of the Chief Judge Federal High Court of Nigeria. Hearing Notes were issued and served on Counsels by Order of Court. The 2nd-22nd Defendants were joined by Order of Court.”
They said further that on Monday 23rd March 2015, “Hon. Justice Ademola took submissions of our lead counsel, Chief Assam Assam, SAN and Dr Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN counsel for 1st Defendant on the issues to be formulated for determination by the court.
The counsel to the petitioners and counsels for the Defendants formulated and adopted the sole issue for determination as follow: “Whether INEC is competent to remove ,delete, replace or substitute the names of nominated candidate for election after publication of same and after the expiration of time limited for substitution of candidates when that nomination and publication were compelled by a judgment of Court which was subsequently nullified by the Court of Appeal, Abuja.”
The counsels made oral submissions and adopted briefs for judgment which was reserved for 25th March, 2015.
But rather than deliver judgment, they said Justice Ademola adjourned the matter sine die. The judge ruled that the issue at stake “is list of PDP Candidates for Anambra State for the General Elections 2015, the subject matter of appeals in the Supreme Court in SC/37/2015 and SC/29/2013.
Events began to unfold with perplexing twists; the petitioners argued they said during the pendency of judgment in the above mentioned cases, justice Ademola took up other pre-election matter from Anambra bordering on nomination of candidate for PDP in Anambra state. They are suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/254/2015:Hon.Lynda Chuba Ikpeazu Vs PDP& 3 Ors and Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/1091/2014: Senator Margery Okadigbo Vs PDP & 3 Ors. Senator Stella Oduah is the 4t Defendant that suit.
They said “It is noteworthy that both Senator Stella Oduah and Senator Margery Okadigbo are both 4th and 12th Defendants in our suit, FHC/ABJ/CS/177/2015.
The petitioners also drew the attention of the NJC to what they described as unprecedented speed with which the suit Hons Lynda Chuba Ikpeazu vs PDP &3 Ors was handled.” It was commenced on the 18/3/2015,only 7 (seven ) days after filing. Again note suit was commenced long after our suit dealing with similar issues.
.“It is most shocking that on the same 25/3/2015 that Hon Justic AFA Ademola adjourned our matter sine die, that he allowed oral arguments on the same issues of PDP candidates in FHC/ABJ/CS/254/2015, written addresses adopted and judgment was delivered. A clever device to enable Hon.Ikpeazu stand in waiting the electoral victory of PDP in the elections of 2015.
“On 25/6/2015, Hon Justice Ademola delivered judgment in Suit No FHC/ABJ/CS/254/205 and made both declaratory reliefs and ancillary orders in favour of the plantiff, Lynda Ikpeazu without waiting for the outcome of SC.37/2015 pending at the Supreme Court.
Also they raised in the petition the issue of conflict of interest against Dr Oyechi Ikpeazu SAN who is a member of INEC legal team whom they said also appeared for his sibling Hon Lynda Ikpeazu in the suit “FHC/ABJ/CS/254/2015 thereby, compromising INEC”.
They proceeded to show the alleged bias and the fact that Justice Ademola’s written judgment in their suit is at variance with his pronouncement in open court. They attached relevant evidence to drive home their point.
The affidavit of facts in support of the petition was deposed to by Uche Ifeoma, of Oalla Village in Ufuma Ward, Orumba North Local Government of Anambra State. She among other issue noted that NJC should probe the conflicting actions of Justice Ademola in particular ,with reference e to the case of Lynda Ikpeazu.
“In view of the afore-stated facts, we humbly request the Honourable Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman of National Judicial Council to take appropriate disciplinary action against Hon. Justice Ademola in the interest of justice,” the petitioners said.
Those who signed the petition include: Offia Anthony Chukwud,Julius Oforma, Nwene Ejike Kenneth,Uche Ifeoma Obi, Hon Charles Odedo and Hon Emma Nweke.
Two others have their names appended to the petition also.