Posted by Ifeoma Okafor, Awka | 7 September 2017 | 2,549 times
A drama played itself out on Tuesday at the Court of Appeal, Enugu, when a special three-man Appeal Panel led by Hon. Justice C. N. Uwa in a 57-page judgment held that Electoral College constituted by members of the Anambra State House of Assembly for the election of the Anambra State Local Government five-man Transition Committees is constitutional. The court dismissed the appeal marked No. CA/E/437/2012 filed by Mr. Jezie Ekejiub, an Onitsha-based Human Rights Lawyer and President, Voters Rights International, against the Anambra State Government.
Reading the lead judgment of the Court of Appeal, Justice Uwa held that the election of Local Government Transition Committees through an Electoral College of Members of State House of Assembly constituted for that purpose pursuant to Section 4 (7) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria is not inconsistent with Section 7 (1) of the 1999 Constitution. The lead judgment of Justice Uwa who sat alone during the delivery of the judgment in the absence of other two panel members Hon. Justice H. A. Barka and Hon. Justice B.M Ugo was according to Justice Uwa unanimously agreed to by the absentee members of the panel.
At the middle of the delivery of the judgment by Justice Uwa sitting alone which lasted for more than 3 hours from 2pm-5pm the Appellant, Mr. Ekejiuba could not withstand the direction the skeletal reading of the judgment was going and he interrupted the reading of the judgment and the following arguments ensued:
Ekejiuba: Sorry, My Lord, you have abandoned the local government law, 2010 which provided for appointment of local government transition committees by the Respondents which my appeal was attacking and from which issue two from ground two of my appeal was framed as decided by the High Court presided over by Justice Hope Ozoh and you have framed a new issue which you adopted from the Respondents issue for determination which I earlier raised preliminary objection that it was incompetent because it was not based on the decision of the High Court and not covered by any of the grounds of appeal filed by me. I am alerting this court on the wrong direction your judgment is going because I am a friend of this court. I have only appealed against Local government law, 2010 which provided for illegal appointment of local government transition committees to govern 21 local government areas of Anambra State which was covered by my ground two of my appeal. I have not appealed against the so-called local government law, 2012 which the Respondents raised as an incompetent issue in their Brief of argument now adopted by my Lord to deny me justice in this case. The law is trite that issues not covered by grounds of appeal is incompetent. I want my Lord to take note of this mockery of justice.
Justice Uwa: Are you now saying that the extant law is not relevant?
Ekejiuba: Yes. It was not decided by the High Court and was also not covered by any of my grounds of appeal. Several Supreme Court and Appeal Court decisions are against raising issues not decided by the lower court and not covered by ground of appeal. It will be scandalous and infamous if this court to fail to follow this age long judicial precedent.
Justice Uwa: The extant law was pursuant to section 4(7) of the constitution.
Ekejiuba: All I am saying is that Local government law, 2012 does not even exist. It was brought forward to this court to deny the people their entrenched right to vote and be voted for under section 7 (4) of the same 1999 constitution. I am in this appeal to protect voters rights. Local government law, 2012 was not court decided by the judgment appeal against in this appeal. It was also not covered by any of my grounds of appeal filed in this appeal. Even the Electoral College mode of election by State House of Assembly in that Local government law 2012 is unknown to the Nigerian constitution or the electoral Act, 2010 as amended. That secret law called Local government law, 2012 was never published to anyone in Anambra State and was only known for the first time in this appeal as raised in the 1st and 3rd Respondents Brief. It was imported to defeat this appeal. My Lord, take a look at the judgment of Justice Ozoh and grounds of appeal filed in this appeal. You will not see anywhere local government law, 2012 that provides for so-called Electoral College was mentioned. You can only see that Section 3 of local government law, 2010 or similar law on appointment of transition committees was decided by High Court judge and I raised ground two on it. So, why should the court summersault and import an extraneous issue in the delivery of this judgment.
Justice Uwa: Continued reading the judgment and concluded by dismissing the appeal. No order to costs.
In his reaction after the judgment the activist lawyer, Mr. Ekejiuba described the judgment as not only infamous and scandalous but also a mockery of justice. He argued that the pronouncement of the appeal court judgment on the Electoral College mode of election of Local government transition committees for the 21 Local government areas of Anambra State is contrary to the provision of section 7 (4) of the 1999 constitution which provided for unfettered voting rights to the Nigerian voters. There is no doubt that the so-called Electoral College Local government law, 2012 used to deny me justice in this appeal is inconsistent with the general election voting rights provided under section 7 (4) of the 1999 constitution.
Let me also inform the media that rather than appealing this judgment, I shall file an application for judicial review for reversal of this judgment at the same court to be heard by a different panel of Appeal Court judges. All hands will also be on deck to formally petition against the panel members to the National Judicial Council (NJC) after obtaining a copy of this infamous judgment for corruption and misconduct.
It will be recalled that Ekejiuba filed the Appeal against Governor of Anambra State, State House of Assembly and Attorney General of Anambra State seeking for perpetual injunction against the use of appointed local government transition Committees to run the affairs of the 21 Local Government Areas of the state. The suit was brought pursuant to section 1 (2) and 7 (1) of the 1999 constitution. Justice Hope Ozoh of the High Court of Justice, Awka had earlier dismissed the suit for lack of merit. Not satisfied Ekejiuba headed to the Court of Appeal to challenge the verdict.
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