My Land Mark Decision That Enriched the Locus of Our Legal Jurisprudence- Justice Peter Umeadi
LAW PERSONALITY INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
Which of your decisions do you consider to be landmark or locus classicus that enriched our legal jurisprudence?
In my time on Bench I wrote many decisions. Time and effort would be required to go through all of them and determine which ones enhanced our jurisprudence. For now let me enumerate a few that are handy.
A) In Suit No. A/1C/2013, Federal Republic of Nigeria v Dr. Okechukwu Odunze & 7Ors. The 1st, 3rd and 5th defendant applicants filed a notice of preliminary objection dated 20/3/13 praying for the following (1) an order striking out or quashing the charge contained in Charge No A/1C/2013 levelled against the 1st, 3rd, and 5th accused person for being incurably defective. (2) an order striking out or quashing the charges contained in charge on the following grounds (i) That the charges against 1st, 3rd and 5th accused persons are founded on a repealed law; The Corruption Practice and other Related Offences Act No 5 of 2000 repealed by Section 55 of Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Act No. 6 of 2003 Cap C31 LFN 2004.
(ii) That the alleged offences committed by the 1st, 3rd & 5th accused persons were committed after the abrogation of the Corrupt Practice and other Related Offences Act No. 5 of 2000. In the ruling delivered on 4/2/2014 by Umeadi CJ (as he then was) it was stated inter alia “From all I have said above I hold that the CPC Act No. 5 of 2000 is the extant law. See FRN v Anache 2013 1 1CPCLR 634; Attorney General Ondo v Attorney Federation & Ors 2013 1 ICPCLR P. 254; Olafisoye v FRN (204) 4 NWLR pt. 864 @ P. 580; Suit FHC/ABT/CS/93/2003 Hon. Bala Kaoje & 4 Ors v The National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria & 13 Ors per Egbo Egbo J (as he then was). A look at both Acts would show that the composition of their membership are radically different. The CPC Act No. 6 of 2003 stipulates that the Chairman should be a serving Justice of the Court of Appeal which the current Chairman of ICPC functioning under the CPC Act No. 5 of 2000 is not. It is an irony therefore that CPC Act. No. 5 of 2000 is not contained in the Laws Federation of Nigeria 2004 while the CPC Act No. 6 of 2003 is. That anomaly should be corrected immediately. The surest pointer to the recognition of the CPC Act No. 5 of 2000 by the Federal Government of Nigeria is that they continue to recognize and deal with the members of the CPC No. 5 of 2000. I further hold that CPC Act No. 6 of 2003 has been voided and nullified and ought not to remain in the statute books. See Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/93/2003 Hon. Bala Kaije & 4 Ors v The National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria & 13 Ors (supra). Suit No. FCT/HC/CR/44/2010 FRN v Dr. Aboki Zhawa & Zors (unreported). The preliminary objection of the 1st,3rd and 5th defendants/applicants lack merit and is dismissed. I hereby make the following orders. (1) The CPC Act No. 5 of 2000 is the void and subsisting legislation on the matter and ought to be included in the compiled Laws of Federation of Nigeria (2) The CPC Act No. 6 of 2003 is null valid and of no effect and ought to be expunged from the compiled Laws of the Federation of Nigeria. (3) Pursuant to the meaning at Section 318 of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) I hereby make a recommendation that the Hon. Attorney General and Minister for Justice of Nigeria to (i) include the CPC Act No. 5 of 2000 in the compiled Laws of the Federation of Nigeria forthwith and (ii) expunge the CPC Act No. 6 of 2003 from the compiled Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, forthwith.
B) In Suit No. A/182/2016, All Progressive Congress (APC) & 21 Ors v Anambra State Independent Electoral Commission & 28 Ors, The Plaintiffs by Originating Summons dated 20/4/16 claim the 13 (thirteen) reliefs against the defendants. The judgement delivered on Thursday 18/9/2017 by Umeadi CJ (as he then was) read inter alia “The Originating Summons of the 1st to 22nd plaintiffs succeed in part and I make the following orders. (a)It is hereby declared that section 7(1) the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), Section 4(1) and Section 59 of the Local Government Law of Anambra State 1999 (as amended) guarantees the existence of a democratically elected government in the 21 Local Government Councils of Anambra State (b)It is hereby declared that Section 208 (2) – (6) as amended (supra) were made in consonance with good legislative practice to fill a vacuum which may occur in future and in this case is in tandem with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999(as amended) and was validly made by the 6th defendant and is a competent law to be put into use by the 4th defendant in appropriate circumstances (c) it is declared that there is no basis at law and in fact either to declare the 2nd – 22nd plaintiffs as winners of election to the named Local Government Council in Anambra State or to be issued Certificates of Return as there were no election held and they were not validly nominated candidates of a political party as envisaged by Section 64(3) of the Local Government Law of Anambra State 1999(as amended) (d) It is hereby declared that the appointment of the 9th to 29th defendants as Chairmen Transition Committee at the expiration of their tenure as Chairmen of elected Councils on 12/1/2016 by the 4th defendant in the absence of an emergency or such like situation is wrongful, unconstitutional, Illegal null void and of no effect. (e) It is hereby ordered that 1st defendant pursuant to Section 64(1) of the Local Government Law 1999 (as amended) appoint a date within 90 days from today for election into the offices of Chairmen and Members of the Local Government Councils which became vacant on 12/1/2016.
C) The Petition no. EDGV/EPT/1/07 Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole &
Anor v INEC & 21 Ors went on appeal as INEC v Oshiomhole (2009) 4 NWLR
(pt 11 32) 607. “Along the line the Chairman attained the mandatory age of
65 years, retired from the Judiciary of Kwara State and left the panel. Surprisingly I was appointed the Chairman. At this time we had about 18 days left to the time fixed for the judgement in the gubernatorial election petition. The panel now consisting of Umeadi J as Chairman (now CJ Anambra State), Tahir J (then) Obande J (now of the Court of Appeal) and Anjor J (Cross River State Judiciary) held our mandatory meeting on the judgement of the gubernatorial election petition. The lot fell on my humble self to write the judgement which pronounced the petitioner Adams Oshiomhole as the validly elected Governor of Edo State of Nigeria in the gubernatorial election of April 2007……… I read that judgement from a manuscript of 183 pages on Thursday March 20th 2008, which lasted for
about 6 hours. Later when it was typed it came to 119 pages. The rest is history” The above quote was taken from “Judgement Writing: Practical Hints” by Umeadi J (as he then was) p. 241 – 259 of the book “The Day the Eagle Emerged” (supra). Undoubtedly whatever accolade emanating from this judgement belong to all us on the panel equally. However, the exigency of the moment made it that the other members of the panel heard the full text of the judgement for the first time when it was read out in the open tribunal. Permit me to quote from the review on the judgement written by the Rt. Hon. Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu, OON, SAN, JP, titled “The Day the Eagle Emerged” which became the name of the book. (supra) at pp 264 – 265 as follows inter alia “The tension was felt not just in Edo State but even on television all over the country as His Lordship in a most painstaking manner and with surgical expertise and precision excised the chaff – the invalid votes – from the grain – the lawful votes and brought down the only power capable of physically protecting the arbiters from clear and present danger. The Court of Appeal in INEC v Oshiomhole (2009) 4 NWLR (part 1132) 607, found no difficulty in not only endorsing the decision of the Tribunal but also protected and quoted in extenso the painstaking and serene findings of fact made and amply supported by well-researched judicial pronouncement of superior courts. It is exhilarating that with the dearth of judicial pronouncement of the word “not less than one quarter of all votes cast…. In the State” as used in Section 179(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria the Court of Appeal in CA/E/EPT/G/08/2010 and CA/E/EPT/G/04/2010 resorted to INEC v Oshiomhole (supra) with particular reference to the efforts of Hon Justice P.N.C. Umeadi, CJ in the excision of “invalid votes” on which alone viability may be conferred on a declaration made at an election.”
D) In Suit No. 0/265/2004 Chief (Prof) A.N.A. Modebe & 10 Ors (for themselves and on behalf of Ikporo Onitsha Co-operatives) v Igwe Okonkwo of Amansi; Exparte (1) Lazarus Uba (2) Innocent Iwuagwu, ruling was delivered at High Court Onitsha on 23/7/2004 by Umeadi J (as he then was) inter alia “Therein it was established that Section 7(5) of the Constitution (supra) refer to the 4th Schedule where functions conferred by law upon Local Government Councils are set out in parts. Section 1(e) of the 4th Schedule (supra) set out one of the main functions of the Local Government as follows, establishment, maintenance and regulation of slaughter houses, slaughter slabs, markets, motor parts and public conveniences. It is clear that from the passage quoted above that the Anambra State Government does not have the power to establish or maintain or regulate the market at Ose Okwodu market Onitsha. That duty would fall upon the Local Government under whose jurisdiction the market in situate …. I respectfully say that the law as enunciated by the Supreme Court in Knight Frank & Rutley v Attorney General of Kano State (1998) NLR page 19 is still the good law on the issue. In this instance the effect of the Constitution is undiluted as the Section 1(e) relevant here stand on its own and does not need any enabling law from Anambra State to come to life. It is a constitutional provision pure and simple and being the supreme law it takes its force, effect and power instantly. I therefore hold that from all I have said above that the Anambra State Government did not have the power to make Exhibit 3 attached to the affidavit in support. In effect the Anambra State Government through her Hon. Commissioner for Special Utilities acted ultra vires when it made Exhibit 3 on 5/4/2004. I hold that Exhibit 3 is null and void and of no effect. I am therefore not able now to make the Attorney General of Anambra State a part in this suit to represent the State as there is nothing in the subject matter of this suit which directly concerns or connects the Anambra State Government.”
Finally, you joined the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) last year do you have an interest in politics, what is your interest
Yes, After I retired from the Judiciary I joined the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA). In Nigeria, the democratic dispensation is hinged on political parties. There is no provision for independent candidates. Any person who wishes to contest for any political position could only do so through any of the registered political parties. I intend to seek the ticket of APGA to contest the election for President of Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2023.