The People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Ebonyi State, said it has resolved to petition the National Judicial Council (NJC) against Justice Henry A. Njoku of Ebonyi State High Court over alleged “disgraceful” conduct of making a caricature of the judiciary and using his official position to commit, abuse the process of the Court.
The party also resolved to petition the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) Disciplinary Committee, over the conducts of Roy Nweze, the elder brother to Governor David Umahi, and other lawyers involved in the matter for what it described as “infamous” conducts, which ridicules the legal profession in Nigeria.
The State Chairman of the PDP, Mr. Tockukwu Okorie, disclosed this in a statement on Friday while reacting to a judgment delivered on Monday by Justice Njoku in a Suit NO HAB/13/2022, dated and filed on the 4th of February 2022, by the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ebonyi State in 2019, Senator Sunny Ogbuoji and his running mate, Justin Mbam Ogodo against Governor David Nwaeze Umahi and his deputy, Dr. Eric Kelechi Igwe.
The plaintiffs had through originating summons asked the court to hold that the defendant, Governor Umahi, having defected to the APC from the PDP, ought to vacate the office, so that he would be sworn-in having come second in the election.
Justice Henry Njoku dismissed the suit for lacking in merit, explaining that having regard to section 188 (1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, the defendant (Governor Umahi) has not offended any provision of the Constitution or the Electoral Act in his defection to APC.
He further held that having regarded section 308 of the Constitution, it was even wrong to institute criminal or civil proceedings against the office of the Governor.
However, the PDP in a statement signed by its chairman on Friday described the judgment as a sham, stating that, “we wish to recall, that the Peoples Democratic Party, had on the 17th of August 2021, filed an action in Suit No FHC/ABJ/CS/920/2021, between Peoples Democratic Party V Independent National Electoral Commission, Engr David Nwaeze Umahi and Dr. Eric Kelechi Igwe, at the Federal High Court, Abuja.
“This matter has as its subject matter, the defection of David Nweze Umahi, and Dr. Eric Kelchi Igwe, from Peoples Democratic Party to the All Progressives Congress, and part of the reliefs sought, was for the duo to vacate their offices.
“The parties in this matter, in Suit No FHC/ABJ/CS/920/2021, pending at the Federal High Court, Abuja, filed and exchanged pleadings, which were all adopted on the 19th day of January 2022, and the matter reserved for judgment, which will be delivered on the 8th day of March 2022.
“To our greatest shock, a process, seeking the same reliefs as in the suit filed at the Federal High Court Abuja, in suit No FHC/ABJ/CS/920/2021, which was already adjourned for judgment, and also have the same subject matter, and also having All Progressives Congress, as 3rd Plaintiff, Engr David Nwaeze Umahi and Dr. Eric Kelechi Igwe, as defendants, who were 2nd, 3rd and 4th Defendants, in the matter pending at the Federal High Court Abuja for judgment, was filed on the 4th of February 2022, at the High Court of Ebonyi State Abakaliki.
“The entire case of the Plaintiffs, therein, which included All Progressives Congress, who is the 2nd Defendant in the suit pending for judgment in the Federal High Court Abuja, revolved around the same defection of David Umahi and His Deputy, from Peoples Democratic Party to APC, and part of the reliefs sought, was also for the duo to vacate their offices.
“Again, it was also surprising that the Peoples Democratic Party, whose mandate, an All Progressives Congress (APC), a gubernatorial candidate in the 2019 governorship election in Ebonyi State, is now suddenly seeking to protect, was not joined as a party in the matter by the said Plaintiffs, who by their action, in the High Court of Ebonyi State, were seeking the protection of the interest of the Peoples Democratic Party, knowing that similar action was already subsisting, in the Federal High Court Abuja, and had since the 19th day of January, before they even filed their action, been adjourned for judgment.
“It was also very surprising that the Judge of the High Court of Ebonyi State, who has the inherent jurisdiction, to suo motuo join the Peoples Democratic Party, knowing that the entire action, revolved around the Peoples Democratic Party and its mandate in the gubernatorial election in Ebonyi State, in the 2019 general election, failed to question the non-joinder of PDP, or order the joinder of the PDP, as a party in the said matter.
“The trial judge failed, neglected and disregarded the hallowed principle of the twin pillars of justice, and also the rule of fair hearing as provided for in section 36(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The fact, of delivering judgment on the 28th of February 2022, in a matter filed on the 4th of February 2022, in the said Court, is by itself, a prima facie evidence of compromise by the said Justice H. A Njoku, who incidentally, is from the same local government as the governor of Ebonyi State, Engr David Nwaeze Umahi, and his brother who acted as the Defendants’ Counsel, Roy Nweze Esq, in the sham proceedings giving rise to the judgment,” the PDP said.
The party assured the supporters in the State, not to take the law into their hands, as it had taken steps, to immediately appeal against the judgment at the Court of Appeal.
“The Peoples Democratic Party, Ebonyi State Chapter, is also aware of plans, of Roy Nweze Esq, in connivance with few other lawyers in Ebonyi State, to duplicate other pending actions against the government and governor of Ebonyi State, pending at the Federal High Court, Abuja, to obtain arranged judgments to frustrate those ongoing matters.
“We want to state categorically, that we will not fold our arms, and watch the travesty of justice by the conducts, of supposed officers, in the temple of justice. We will take all legal steps necessary, to ensure that justice is not only done, but seen to have been properly done, in respect of the conduct of Roy Nweze Esq, and his cohorts, the statement added.
Reacting, one of the lawyers, Roy Umahi, lampooned the PDP chairman and other leaders of the party for always displaying crass ignorance of the law.
“Assuming the constitution of Nigeria had made consequences or punishment for Governors defecting from one party to another, the political party that would benefit in Umahi’s defection would have actually been the political party that came second, and not even the PDP because section 141 of the electoral Act as then amended and now repealed, says, that an election tribunal or court shall not under any circumstance declare any person a winner in an election if such person has not fully participated in the processes of the said election.
So, it’s Senator Sunny Ogbuoji of the APC that is supposed to benefit assuming any consequence was provided in the constitution for a Governor defecting to another party. If the PDP is saying they should have been joined, they can go to the court of Appeal to say that, in which case, it is a settled law that non-joinder of necessary parties does not defeat an action.
“When a plaintiff is suing, he decides the parties sue based on the relief he is seeking. If they want to talk law, they should go and look for somebody who knows the law to teach the law. Everything is not politics”, he said.