In The Matter Of Mr. Emmanuel Nnamdi Ubah Versus Dame Virginia Etiaba & Ors Holden At The Enugu Division Of The Court Of Appeal: Constitutional Crisis And Judicial Anarchy Are Imminent Over The Anambra State Of Nigeria´s Governorship Seat.
Honourable Justice Umaru Abdullahi
President of the Court of Appeal
The President´s Chambers
Court of Appeal Complex
The three-Arms- Zone
In The Matter Of Mr. Emmanuel Nnamdi Ubah Versus Dame Virginia Etiaba & Ors Holden At The Enugu Division Of The Court Of Appeal: Constitutional Crisis And Judicial Anarchy Are Imminent Over The Anambra State Of Nigeria´s Governorship Seat
Above subject matter refers.
On 19th day of April 2003, Anambra People went to the poll to elect their new governor, among other elective posts, and the results announced by the INEC claimed that Dr. Chris Ngige, who ought to come fourth in the said poll, had been returned as “duly elected”. Unsatisfied with that bogus declaration, Mr. Peter Obi (present governor of Anambra State), who ought to be declared winner by the INEC, approached the First Anambra State Election Petitions´ Tribunal, headed by Honourable Justice Garuba Nabaruma (now Your Lordship´s Learned Brother at the Court of Appeal) and sought to be declared winner and duly elected, on the strength of strong human and material evidence, including Form EC8As, forensic experts, forty-five witnesses, etc.
On 5th day of August 2005, the Tribunal returned a unanimous verdict in Mr. Peter Obi´s favour. Dissatisfied, Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige approached the Court of Appeal, Enugu Division, presided over by Honourable Justice Danlandi Mohammed, who was under the supervision of Honourable Justice James Ogebe (now Your Lordship´s Learned Brother at the Supreme Court), the then Presiding Judge of the Court of Appeal, Enugu Division. Dr Chris Ngige prayed the appellate court to quash the Tribunal´s unanimous verdict and affirm his governorship declaration by the INEC.
On 15th day of March 2006, the Court of Appeal, Enugu Division, unanimously affirmed Mr. Peter Obi´s return as duly and credibly elected. When controversy arose with respect to the meaning of Section 180(2) of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999, as per Mr. Peter Obi´s tenure owing to the nearness of the 2007 general elections, Mr. Peter Obi approached the Federal High Court, Enugu Division, presided over by Honourable Justice F.O. Faji, for the interpretation of the said section of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999.
The Court declined jurisdiction and Mr. Peter Obi approached the Court of Appeal, Enugu Division, with the same relief. And the Court in her own wisdom also declined to entertain the said suit. Mr. Peter Obi doggedly approached the Supreme Court of Nigeria, who invoked Section 22 of her Act and assumed jurisdiction. The assumption of the jurisdiction resulted to the 14th day of June 2007 grand judgment, which answered Mr. Peter Obi´s prayers and further ordered Mr. Emmanuel Nnamdi Ubah to vacate his unlawful office for Mr. Peter Obi to continue his valid tenure.
Background of Mr. Emmanuel Nnamdi Ubah´s Case:
The Independent National Electoral Commission arbitrarily conducted an election into the non-vacant Anambra governorship seat on 14th day of April 2007 and announced Mr. Emmanuel Nnamdi Ubah as “winner”, by allocating “1,006 million votes” to him. He was inaugurated on 29th day of May 2007 and on 14th day of June 2007, the Supreme Court of Nigeria ordered him to vacate office for Mr. Peter Obi to continue his tenure, which would elapse on 17th day of March 2010.
Prior to the judgment by the Supreme Court, Dame Virginia Etiaba, the incumbent deputy governor of Anambra State and 2007 governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance(APGA) in the 2007 court-invalidated governorship election, and others approached the Anambra State Election Petitions´ Tribunal, seeking for the invalidation of Mr. Emmanuel Nnamdi´s governorship election. The said tribunal, on the basis of the judgment of the Supreme Court, struck out their applications and wound up the governorship petition segment in late 2007.
Dissatisfied, Mr. Emmanuel Nnamdi Ubah approached the Court of Appeal, Enugu Division, and the Court on 18th day of February 2008, opined that the lower tribunal “erred in law” by “striking out the matter and winding up”, because election matters originate from lower tribunal and stop at the higher tribunal or Court of Appeal, in accordance with Sections 285 and 246(3) of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999. The Court reportedly held that Mr. Emmanuel Nnamdi Uba´s election stands.
With the Supreme Court pursuant of Section 22 of her Act, invalidating Mr. Nnamdi Uba´s election and the Court of Appeal upholding same, confusions had seemingly arisen. Mr. Emmanuel Ubah had also fought tooth and nail to get the Supreme Court to reverse herself over her 14th day of June 2007 grand judgment. He filed an application at the Supreme Court on 31st day of October 2007 and lost same on 29th day of January 2008. He went back to the Court of Appeal, Enugu Division on 15th day of July 2008 with another application and lost his application as well.
Mr. Emmanuel Nnamdi Ubah again approached the Supreme Court with an application, dated 15th day of September 2008. He withdrew same on 6th day of May 2009, amended it and re-filed it on 8th day of May 2009, and on 11th day of June, 2009 the Supreme Court threw same out. In September 2009, he re-approached the Court of Appeal, Enugu Division, seeking the order of the Court for his reinstatement as the duly elected governor of Anambra State when the tenure of Governor Peter Obi elapses on 17th day of March 2010.
He predicated his latest application on the earlier decision of the Court which had ruled that his “election stands”. Hearing in the said application was concluded on 21st day of October 2009 and the Court adjourned sine die, with a promise to communicate the judgment date to the parties to the suit. Our letter to Your Lordship is predicated on the contentious issues below.
It is very obvious that supremacy contest now exists between the Supreme Court of Nigeria and the Court of Appeal of Nigeria, with respect to the said subject matter. While the Supreme Court had invalidated the said governorship election, the Court of Appeal says it stands. The Supreme Court relied on Section 22 of her Act as well as other relevant Sections of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 for her judicial decision, while the Court of Appeal reportedly cited Section 246(3) of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 for her own decision.
Questions: The following questions, if properly addressed, will be vital for the resolution of the said impasse. Consequently Your Lordship, our questions are as follows:
1. Going by the judicial order of hierarchy or seniority, if the judgment of the Supreme Court conflicts with the judgment of the Court of Appeal, what happens or which of the two takes precedent?
2. Can the Certificate of Return for the governorship of Anambra State of Nigeria be held by two persons at the same time?
3. Can an election be validly conducted by the INEC into the office of the governor of Anambra State, when the present occupant had spent only one year and two months (as at April 2007), out of his valid tenure of four years?
4. If an election was conducted on 14th day of April 2007 into the non-vacant Anambra State governorship seat, did it not amount to gross violation of Section 178(2) of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999? The said section provides that: “An election to office of Governor of a State shall be held on a date not earlier than sixty days and not later than thirty days before the expiration of the term of office of the last holder of that office”
5. Are there issues like pre-election matters, election matters and post-election matter in the body of our electoral laws, and is the present case at the Court of Appeal, Enugu Division, an election matter or a post-election matter?
6. If the present application before the Court of Appeal, Enugu Division, brought by Mr. Emmanuel Nnamdi Ubah, is a post election matter, does he has locus standi to institute same ab initio?
Similarly Your Lordship, we prayerfully and respectfully urge Your Lordship to ensure that justice does not give birth to legal injustice, with respect to Chief Martin Agbaso versus INEC & ors, holden at the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, over the 2007 Imo State governorship election legal tussle.
Recall Your Lordship that Chief Martin Agbaso had gone to Court to challenge the source of power, which INEC used in canceling the said election, which results had been collated and announced from 24, out of the 27 local government areas in the State, more so when the State Assembly election conducted at the same time was upheld by the Commission. This is another test case for Your Lordship´s Court of Appeal and it shall be heard and adjudicated on its own merit.
Respectfully Your Lordship, we, the Anambra Human Rights Coalition, prayerfully urge Your Lordship to ensure that the looming anarchy and constitutional crisis over the subject matter above-mentioned, which is being speculated in some quarters, is averted. The expected verdict from Your Lordship´s Appeal Court should be popular, unbiased, firm, credible and historically durable. Material inducements and other destructive factors, if any, must be rejected and not allowed to put a spanner in the wheel of justice, equity and fairness.
In order to resolve amicably the above named questions, Your Lordship, as the head of the Court of Appeal in Nigeria, and a respected member of the NJC, should liaise with the CJN and other respected members of the National Judicial Council, in accordance with Part 1, Section 21(f) and 21(i) of the Third Schedule to the Constitution of Nigeria 1999, which state that: (f) “NJC should advise the President and Governors on any matter pertaining to the judiciary as may be referred to them by the Council,” and (i)”deal with all other matters relating to broad issues of policy and administration”.
We trust in Your Lordship´s fatherly and dispassionate attention to this very important letter.
For: Anambra State of Nigeria´s Human Rights Coalition
1. Comrade Emeka Umeagbalasi
Board of Trustees
Intersociety (International Society For Civil Liberties And The Rule Of Law)
And Convenor, Anambra Human Rights Coalition
2. Comrade Aloysius Attah
Civil Liberties Organization, Anambra State Branch
3. Comrade Uzor A. Uzor
Campaign For Democracy, Anambra State Branch
4. Comrade Peter Onyegiri
Zonal Coordinator For Southeast, Human Rights Development International
5. Comrade Samuel Njoku
Human Rights Club Of The Legal Research And Resource Development Center (Lagos), Anambra State Branch
6. Comrade Rosemary Umeh (Mrs.)
(M.Sc. Computer Science)
Alliance For Credible Elections And Good Governance In Anambra State
7. Comrade Chike Umeosonwunne
Traders´ Rights Project
1. Chief Justice of the Federation
2. Chief Judge of the Federal High Court
3. The Chief Judge of Anambra State
4. President, Nigerian Bar Association
5. United Nations Secretary-General, New York, USA
6. UNO High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva, Switzerland
7. President of the United States
8. President of the European Union Federation
9. The Prime Minister of Canada
10. The National Democratic Institute, USA
11. Amnesty International, London, UK
12. International Federation of Human Rights, Paris, France
13. Human Rights Watch, New York, USA
14. Article 19, London, UK
15. International Alert, London, UK
16. International Service for Human Rights, Geneva, Switzerland
17. United Action for Democracy, Nigeria
18. Campaign for Democracy, Nigeria
19. Civil Liberties Organization, Nigeria
20. Committee for the Defense of Human Rights, Nigeria