Petition Against Justice H. Ozon Of The Anambra State High Court Regarding Suit No. A/126/2013 Between Michael Joe Onwudinjo Vs Maxi Okwu & Ors
27th of February, 2014
National Judicial Council(NJC)
Supreme Court Complex,
Three Arms Zone,
Your lordship ,
I am the 1st Defendant in the above case and I am familiar with the facts of the case. I also want to place it on record that I am a Lawyer a very Senior one at that having been called to the Nigerian Bar in 1978. Therefore as a person I cannot do or allow to be done anything that will bring the judiciary or judiciary system into disrepute or to be disparaged.
I dare say that Judges are not to be used as pawns – to be shiffed and shuffled at the whims and carprices of the persons playing chess game.
I also dare to say that pawns are meant to protect the King and not to disparage them. A pawn or group of pawns are meant to protect the King not otherwise.
In our judicial system, while a Judge should not be used as a pawn by any of the parties in the suit or any person interested in the suit, the Judge should use himself as a pawn protecting Justice and the cause of Justice. This is the onerous but fundamental call of a Judge.
Where therefore a Judge decides to be used as a pawn by the parties or allows himself to be use to propagate injustice then it leaves a lot to be desired.
Like in the case of Justice H.O. Ozoh of the Awka High Court.
On the 27th day of May, 2013 Justice Ozoh gave Judgment in the Suit No. A/126/2013 Micheal Joe Onwudinjo Vs Maxi Okwu & Ors and against the Plantiff in favour of the Defendants. The 3rd Defendant is the All Progressives Grand Alliance. In the Judgment, the Court upheld the Convention held by APGA on the 8th day of April, 2013 which produced Chief Maxi Okwu and others sued as the 1st Defendant in the Suit as the authentic Leaders and National Executive Committee members of APGA. By this time Chief Victor Umeh and Governor Peter Obi were at daggers drawn.
Eventually both of them settled and publicly kissed and embraced themselves expressing unison of both interest and purpose in the affairs pertaining APGA.
When INEC fixed and published the time table for the Anambra State Gubernatorial Elections it dawned on the two new lovers that their scheme was showed in failure. They realized that in so far as the Judgment of Ozoh J. exists and persists, the only National Executive Committee of APGA which could validly nominate a gubernatorial Candidate for the Party APGA is that led by Chief Maxi Okwu which had been held to be authentic by Justice Ozoh in the Suit Number A/126/2013. It was therefore decided that the Judge would be asked to set the Judgment aside.
Let me state here and now that the Plantiff had appealed against the Judgment in Appeal Number CA/E/297/2013. Upon wiser Counsel he withdrew the appeal and same was by order of the Court of Appeal dismissed Pursuant to Order 11 Rule 5 of the Court of Appeal Rules.
By this, the Judgment became a Judgment of the Court of Appeal.
During the build up to the Anambra State Gubernatorial Elections the Chief Maxi Okwu led National Executive held its primaries which produced Dr. Chike Obidigbo as the flag bearer of the party. His name was forwarded to INEC.
Chief Victor Umeh's group also held its own primaries and submitted the name of Chief Willie Obiano as its Candidate for the election. At the end APGA won and Chief Willie Obiano was “returned” as winner.
Following this return, Dr. Chike Obidigbo filed a Petition at the Governorship Tribunal at Awka and stated as his main grouse that he was validly nominated by the only valid National Executive Committee of APGA and which is led by Chief Maxi Okwu and which Convention that produced him was upheld by Justice Ozoh in suit number A/126/2013.
In the interim on the 15th day of January, 2014 the Federal High Court Abuja in Suit Number FHC/ABJ/CS/563/13 CHIEF MAXI OKWU & ORS Vs CHIEF VICTOR UMEH declared that Chief Victor Umeh was never validly elected National chairman of APGA and directed in the Judgment that he should vacate his position. The Court also declared that in so far as the Judgment of Ozoh J. exist and is not set aside Chief Victor Umeh could neither pretend to be the National Chairman of APGA nor portends to validly nominate a gubernatorial Candidate for the party in the Anambra gubernatorial elections. It therefore became imperative and compulsory that the Judgment of Justice Ozoh under reference must be set aside. It was therefore agreed that an application be brought seeking to set the said Judgment aside on the ground that APGA which had won the case was not aware that the case was in existence.
APGA was victorious in the suit. How can the same APGA ask that its victory be set aside?
If the party for whatever reason desires that the Judgment was no longer of any moment to it, it could just ignore same. But applying to have it set aside when there are two other interested parties speaks volumes of the target of the entire proceedings.
Another stinging indenture in the whole matter is the manner of service. The High Court of Awka had on a motion Ex-Parte granted the Applicant leave to serve the other Respondents by substituted means. This is allowed by law, but what is not allowed is that the Respondents should be served through the Applicant itself. How can a Court direct that you serve an Applicant's opponent through the Applicant itself? What is the guarantee that the Applicant will inform the others that Court processes were served on them through the Applicant?
I also find it completely objectionable that Justice Ozoh should and did grant an extention of time to seek leave to apply to set aside the Judgment – Ex-Parte.
If it is not clear to the Judge that you cannot grant such an indulgence Ex-Parte then we do not need to seek the cause of the fall in judicial standards elsewhere.
Another feature of all this imbroglio is that a Justice of a High Court with full knowledge and presence to set aside a Judgment confirmed by the Court of Appeal. In our judicial system it is elementary that all Courts below the Court that gave a Judgment are bound by the said Judgment. By Order 11 Rule 5 of the Court of Appeal Rule, once an appeal has been withdrawn by the Applicant pursuant to Order 11 and the withdrawal is accepted whether the appeal Court and same is either struck out or dismissed or whether with or without the Order of Court it ceases to exist it will amount to a dismissal.
Once an appeal has been dismissed and hence affirming the Judgment of the lower Court, then such Judgment becomes the Judgment of the Court of Appeal and the lower Court can no longer venture it. It is therefore a shocker that Justice H. O. Ozoh of the Anambra State High Court has allowed himself to be manipulated. It is recalling that the Honourable Justice does not seem to realize that it is an affront on our judicial hierarchy for him to even contemplate, let alone venture to tamper with a Judgment of the Court of Appeal.
The essence of the whole charade is clear. It is only meant to clear the way for Chief Victor Umeh and Governor Peter Obi to have their way of installing Willie Obiano as Governor of Anambra State and this is when the Court has become functus officio.
It is in the light of this fragrant assault on the integrity of the judiciary that this humble application is brought seeking that sanity be restored to the judiciary in Anambra State. I pray that Justice Ozoh be called to order and the suit transferred to another Judge as I and my numerous do not have even a modicum of confidence in the impartiality of Justice Ozoh to do what is right.
May it please my lord the Honourable Chief Justice of the Federation while I assure you of my highest regards always.
Chief Maxi Okwu
All Progressives Grand Alliance
Please find enclosed
(1) Justice Ozoh's Judgment of the 27th of May 2013 in Suit Number A/126/13
(2) The Judgment of the Court of Appeal in appeal number CA/297/2013 dismissing the Appeal of the Appellant.
(3) The Judgment of Kafarati J. of the Federal High Court Abuja which is being sought to be subverted by setting aside the Judgment of the Awka High Court under reference.
Chief Maxi Okwu.
1. Chief Judge, Anambra State High Court of Justice
2. The Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Anambra State.
3. Hon. Justice Ozoh, Anambra State Judiciary.