By Temple Okonji
Democracy , all over the global village, thrives most successfully and profitably in the fundamental requirements in the (1) supremacy of the Constitution and other obligatory statutes, (2) the vigilance of the Courts through right decisions in disputes and conflicts, (3) credible electoral system and processes , (4) free and fair periodic elections with genuine returns reflective of the aspirations of the electorates, (5) the existence of the media without encumbrances, (6) virility of the Political Parties , (7) protection and preservation of liberties and rights, (8) a safe, secure territory, (9) a responsive and responsible Parliament; and amongst other characteristics, which seem inexhaustibly limitless and boundless. And without these beautiful features and characteristics, a political system cannot be credibly referred to as ” DEMOCRATIC “.
The importance of the Courts in a Democracy cannot be overemphasized in that frictions and disputes and challenges either amongst the organs of government, amongst the citizens or amongst the citizens and the agencies of the organs of government must arise. In such circumstances, it behooves on the Court once sought for intervention, to do what is just, right and proper, drawing from the clearest provisions of the Law.
Once the dispute between parties becomes a subject of review by the Court, utmost care is deployed to ensure impartiality, without a miscarriage of justice! This is achieved through recourse to the evidence and records and facts before it without more. This is where the TRAVAILS of the Hon. John Chike Okafor would be re-examined for the continuous appreciation of the public. What was and still is the fundamental issue in the now notorious challenge between the Hon. John Chike Okafor and the Hon. Emeka Nwajiuba? How have the Courts resolved the puzzle for the expansion and preservation of Democracy in Nigeria as well as the protection of the sanctity and solemnity of the Courts, including their decisions, directions and guidance?
First , the issue arose from the primary election of the All Progressives Congress ( APC) for the Ehime Mbano / Ihitte Uboma / Obowo Federal Constituency of Imo State. From the records in Court as deposed to by the APC and the INEC in the High Court of the FCT , Abuja , the Hon. John Chike Okafor was, still is , and remained at all material times, the candidate of the APC for the House of Representatives election for the said Federal Constituency. This assured electoral status as a candidate was strengthened by the further privilege of automatic tickets formally and legally offered by the Leadership of the APC to the Members of the National Assembly for the National Assembly elections. And so, the Hon. Emeka Nwajiuba was not , and has never been the candidate of the APC for the said Federal Constituency for the said National Assembly elections. Further, only the name of the Hon. John Chike Okafor was forwarded to the Electoral Commission as required by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended and the Electoral Act, 2010 as amended, having also won the primary election as monitored and supervised by the Electoral Commission.
Second, a certain female litigant , a participant in the primary election as an aspirant, had rushed to the Court, alleging a defective primary election, and purportedly challenged that the Hon. Emeka Nwajiuba should not be declared the winner of the primary election. Upon the final release of the lists of successful candidates of the various Political Parties for the National Assembly elections, the name of the Hon. John Chike Okafor was shortlisted for the APC while the name of the Hon. Emeka Nwajiuba was found for the Accord Party by the Electoral Commission ( INEC ). And this list of candidates for the various Political Parties remained until the conclusion of the general election.
Third, the Federal Constituency under review is called and known in law as the Ehime Mbano / Ihitte Uboma / Obowo Federal Constituency. Funnily enough, the litigation for which the mandate of the Hon. John Chike Okafor was erroneously hijacked in diabolical political conspiracy was instituted in the name of the Okigwe South Federal Constituency, a Constituency not known to law, which ridicules the purported judgement because of it’s enforceability challenge. A judgement against a non – existent party or a party unknown to law is incurably defective, without remedies, obviously void and null without more. Then, who ordered the hurriedly executed action of the INEC against the right of the Hon. Chike Okafor , and for what political purposes? Was the execution of an incurably defective judgement right in law? The clearest answer is an emphatic no, as Lord Atkin had declared in the case of UAC vs. Mcfoy that ” illegality does not beget legality ; that one cannot build on nothing, and expect same to stand “!!!
Fourth, assuming without conceding that the Hon. Emeka Nwajiuba was the rightful candidate of the APC but was later substituted , which was not anyway, at all material times, would the rights of Nwajiuba in the APC candidacy subsist in perpetuity, even upon his defection to another political party through which he participated in the main election, still losing to the APC and the Hon. Chike Okafor ? The answer to the poser is a loudest no, negative response, because the defection renders dead, and further nullifies all the interests and rights vested in Nwajiuba in relation to the candidacy of the APC for the said Federal Constituency. The matter in Court ought to have been discontinued forthwith upon the defection of the Hon. Emeka Nwajiuba to the Accord Party!
Fifth, was the Hon. Chike Okafor notified on the dispute in Court since at the time of the institution of the case, he was and still is the holder of the APC ticket for the House of Representatives for the said Federal Constituency? Why was the litigation concealed from the Hon. John Chike Okafor at all material times until the final judgement and the withdrawal of the Certificate of Return upon another RULING of the same Judge, per Kawu J, on another date and freshest litigation, still without notifying him as the winner of the main election as well as the holder of the APC ticket? This points to organized collusion and connivance through judicial instrument!
Sixth, is it right in law for a Judge to sit in the same matter for which a final judgement has been delivered by himself? It is trite in law that a Judge becomes functus officio in a matter before him once a final judgement has been delivered except in application for corrections in typographical errors or grammatical errors caused by the Judge personally, but not to expand the scope of the judgement in consequential Orders or alter the records of the parties in the dispute for which a judgement has been delivered. It is unpardonable professional recklessness and judicial carelessness, obvious judicial rascality for the Judge, per Kawu J, to attempt to alter or amend the name of the Federal Constituency to the Ehime Mbano/ Ihitte Uboma/ Obowo Federal Constituency instead of the purported, non-existent and illegal Okigwe South Federal Constituency which was before the Court in the records before the final judgement, even through a mere application ( motion) leading to widest expansions of the judgement with far-reaching consequences on the innocent bystander without knowledge and notice of the litigation and application on a necessary party called the Hon. John Chike Okafor!
Seventh, can the Hon. Emeka Nwajiuba be the candidate of the APC and the Accord at the same time for the same election for the same Federal Constituency? Can the same Nwajiuba against whom the judgement lied against in the APC become the greatest beneficiary as the second runner – up as the candidate of the Accord Party in the judgement by the same Judge and the same Court? What should be the position of the Court once confronted with these obvious fraudulent activities which caused the misdirection of the Judge in delivering a defective judgement? Should not the Judge become dangerously alarmed in the presentations of the criminal and dishonest and fraudulent actions and activities before him? And if a Judge becomes so aware of these misrepresentations culminating in the miscarriage of justice and the misdirection of the Court through an application, do these freshest records not make a Judge to act with caution in preserving the integrity of the Court as well as the solemnity of the judgement? These are how bizzare, the TRAVAILS of the Hon. Chike Okafor have become!!!
Eight, the Court of Appeal has been sought for the reversal of the injustice and wickedness against the Hon. Chike Okafor in the circumstances. Legally and Rationally, a defective judgement has no consequence in enforceability, but the TRAVAILS have been cemented in the hurried execution of the judgement upon which the Hon. Emeka Nwajiuba was inaugurated as a Member of the ninth (9th) Assembly of the House of Representatives without been the winner of the election or been the holder of the APC ticket in the first place and at all times. It is hoped therefore, within the confines of legality, that the Court of Appeal would restore justice and fairness in the circumstances drawing extensively from the records and evidence and proofs and facts and law as reviewed!
Conclusively, it is a notorious maxim that ” let justice be done even if the earth collapses or rolls away ( FIAT JUSTITIA RUE ET COELEM ). Let only justice be established in these despicable political concert orchestrated by the desperation of the enemies of Democracy and the Rule of Law in Nigeria!
Yes, let Truth and Constitutionalism prevail always, and be allowed to flow like a river non-stop!!!!
Temple Okonji, a lawyer and essayist wrote in from Abuja