A Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Patriots for the Advancement Of Peace and Social Development (PAPSD) has described the plot to unseat the Senator representing Anambra South Senatorial District using the High Court Of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as a well synchronized plan by desperate politicians aided by compromised judicial officials to the detriment of Of the ideals of democracy and justice.
The group noted that it now appears as a matter of general knowledge that defeated candidates in some elections are not willing to concede defeat as they take the opportunity even on sliding on stones to fight until they drown.
In a statement on Tuesday in Abuja and signed by its Executive Director Alhaji Sani Abdulahi Shinkafi he stated that the unlawful and and flagrant abuse of Judicial powers in breach of the fundamental right to fair hearing by Justice Bello Kawu in the case of Hon Chike Okafor versus Uzoma Chioma was nullified by the Court Of Appeal wherein the Court refused to be swayed by the arguments that the time frame for pre-election matters in Section 285 of the Constitution had lapsed.
He said that “recently, the Court of Appeal in Appeal No. CA/A/538/2019 had need to exercise its appellate jurisdiction to bring sanity to the crisis in Okigwe Federal House of Representatives constituency following the null judgment delivered on the 10th of June 2019 by the Honourable Justice Bello Kawu of The High Court Of the Federal High Court (FCT) in the case of Hon. Chike Okafor v. Uzoma Chioma in Suit No. FCT/HC/CV/423/2018” he added.
Shinkafi stated that “the unlawful and flagrant abuse of Judicial power in breach of the fundamental right to fair hearing by Honourable Justice Kawu in the case of Hon. Chike Okafor v. Uzoma Chioma was nullified by the Court of Appeal wherein the Court refused to be swayed by the arguments that the time frame for pre-election matters in Section 285 of the Constitution had lapsed.
“The Court of Appeal further held that where a judgment is null and void, the court that delivered it, is not functus officious and can set aside the null judgment. On this basis, the noble Lords of the Court of appeal rose to the occasion and set aside the judgment of Justice Kawu and restored the mandate of Hon Chike Okafor of the APC who was the candidate on the ballot of the APC at the time of the election. The Court held that the judgment of Justice Kawu was a nullity in its entirety.
Meanwhile, the Election saga in the Anambra South Senatorial District wherein Senator Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah of the Young Progressive Party (YPP) was declared the winner of the Election is a classic scenario that whatever is wrong with the Nigerian electoral system had nothing to do with the law or legal provisions but the institutions operating the system and in this case largely the FCT High Court is a classic example of a court which has become notorious for forum shopping and orders and judgments obtained in manners that flout the basic tenets of justice.
“Recall that shortly after the Election Petition tribunal sitting in Awka and the Court of Appeal sitting in Enugu delivered their judgments in Petition No. EPT/AN/SEN11/2019 and Appeal No. CA/E/EAPP/26/2019 affirming the declaration of result and return of Mr. Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah as the Senator representing the Anambra South Senatorial District, Justice Kawu of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory issued an order which purportedly removes Senator Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah, and thereafter ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission to issue the Certificate of Return to Mr. Obinna Uzor who did not campaign, participate, or take part in the General election of 23rd of February 2019.
“The unlawful attempt to rob Senator Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah of his victory in the General Election of Anambra South Senatorial District started in October 19th 2018 when one Anani Anacletus Chuka approached the High Court of Federal Capital Territory Abuja presided over by Justice Kawu and thereafter prayed the Honourable Court to determine whether the Young Progressive Party (YPP) who did not conduct or hold a primary election for its Party for Anambra South Senatorial seat is qualified to present Senator Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah as its candidate to contest in the general election for Anambra South Senatorial District. He also asked the Court to determine whether by virtue of Section 66(1) and (2), Section 182(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic Of Nigeria 1999(as amended) Senator Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah was not disqualified from contesting the 2019 Senatorial District election on the grounds that he had presented a forged certificate to YPP and INEC respectively.
“While the Suit of Anani Anacletus Chuka against Senator Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah was pending before the Honourable Justice Kawu, Mr. Obinna Uzoh clearly one month after the elections have taken place, he surreptitiously made an application to be joined in the suit which was filed and was thereafter granted by the Honourable Justice Kawu, the application was filed on a Wednesday the 27th of March, heard on Friday the 29th and judgment delivered on Monday April 1st, without service of same on Senator Ubah.
“It is instructive to note that the period between the filing and hearing of the application For joinder and judgment by the court was about three working days and was therefore in flagrant disregard to the rules of Court that prescribes a minimum of seven days notice and in the absence of any order of court abridging time to respond to the application.
Justice Kawu had in his Judgment dated April 11th 2019, held that the reliefs sought by Anani Anacletus Chuka have been overtaken by events but rather than dismiss the Suit in its entirety, the Court unlawfully proceeded to grant far reaching reliefs sought by Counsel to Mr. Obinna Uzoh in his written address even when he had no Counter-claim before the court to oust Senator Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah from office.
Having obtained Judgment in his favour, Obinna Uzor held unto the judgment for so long until after Senator Ubah had fought all the petitions lodged against his victory at the tribunal and Court of Appeal. Senator Ubah and the YPP only became aware of the judgment when Obinna Uzor started taking steps to enforce the judgment at INEC in November 2019.
It is very important to state that the decision of Justice Kawu of the High Court of the FCT was challenged by the YPP and Senator Ubah for being a nullity but the Court claimed it was functions officio as it also did in the Chike Okafor case and refused to set aside it null order.
“Senator Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah was denied of his right to fair hearing when the record of the Court shows that he was not given Seven (7) clear days under the Rules of the Honourable Court to file a Counter-Affidavit. The record shows that the application for joinder of Dr. Obinna Uzor was filed on the 27th of March 2019 and heard on the 28th of March 2019. And ruling joining obinna Uzoh delivered on 1st of April all in less than 7 days and in breach of the rules of Court.
The law is trite that the principle of fair hearing is a constitutional requirement which cannot be wished away, and a hearing cannot be fair if proper or necessary party is refused a hearing or denied opportunity to be heard. Senator Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah was not afforded an opportunity to be heard in the matter that seriously affected his interest and deprived him of his hard earned victory at the poll.
The trial judge was aware of the fact that election had been held but went ahead to grant reliefs that only election tribunals could grant.
In Faleke V INEC, SC. 648/2016) NGSC 84 (30 SEPTEMBER 2016) (SC. 648/2016)  NGSC 1 (29 SEPTEMBER 2016); the Supreme Court held thus:
“It goes without saying that the jurisdiction of any Court or Election Tribunal is circumscribed by the enabling statute creating such Court or Tribunal. The jurisdiction of Election Tribunals in Governorship elections is circumscribed by Section 285(2) of the Constitution which provides. “2. There shall be established in each State of the Federation one or more election tribunals to be known as the Governorship and Legislative Houses Election Tribunal which shall, to the exclusion of any court or tribunal, have original jurisdiction to hear and determine petitions as to whether any person has been validly elected to the office of Governor or Deputy Governor or as a member of any legislative house.”
It would be recalled that the Senatorial elections was held on February 23rd 2019 and INEC thereafter declared Ubah as the winner for Anambra South Senatorial District. Having been dissatisfied with the outcome of the election, Chris Uba of the PDP who came second lodged a petition before the National Assembly and State House of Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Awka In petition no EPT/AN/SEN11/2019. It is a matter of judicial Notice that the Petition was dismissed by the Election Petition Tribunal sitting at Awka Anambra State in its judgment in Petition Numbers EPT/AN/SEN/11/2019 dated 9th Of September 2019 and also the subsequent Appeal to the Court of Appeal was similarly dismissed by the Court of Appeal in its judgment in Appeal Numbers CA/E/EAPP/26/2019 dated 23rd October, 2019.
“Anani who shares the same address with Uzor was posing as a member of the YPP and the application for joinder filed by Uzor which was filed on Wednesday March 27th, was heard on Thursday March 28th, he was joined on April 1st and judgment delivered on April 12th all these took place without the presence of Senator Ubah, YPP, INEC and NECO.
“From the foregoing it could be discerned that they were playing out a script carefully planned to unseat Senator Ubah at all cost.
Without calling on NECO to authenticate its results nor INEC to confirm whether the YPP held a valid primary the court presided over by Justice Kawu went ahead to deliver judgment without the proper parties before him.
Recall that NECO has since come out to clear the air that Senator Ubah did not forge his Certificates and that the NECO certificate submitted to INEC was genuine and issued by NECO. Similarly INEC has confirmed that they monitored the primaries of the YPP at which Senator Ubah was the sole candidate and the report of the monitoring team is also in the public domain.