Ex Enugu CJ accused of plans to sign judgment after retirement

The Enugu State Chairperson of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Mrs. Uchenwa N. Ujam, has urged the Acting Chief Judge of Enugu state, Justice Raymond Ozoemena, to prevent the immediate past State Chief Judge, Justice Priscilla Ngozi Emehelu, from committing what she described as ‘judicial fraud’.

In a petition to the Ag CJ, Mrs. Ujam alleged that the former CJ is on the verge of signing and backdating a judgment she delivered while she was still in service, insisting that doing so would amount to committing ‘judicial fraud’.

Mrs. Ujam is the second defendant in Suit No. E/13/2015 between: Charles Anya Iloerunachi, Obinna Onwuegbu Anya (Administrators of the Estate of Late Cyril Chukwuemeka Anya) as plaintiffs, and the Enugu State Attorney General, and Commissioner for Justice, Mrs. Uchenwa Nebiem Ujam (By Attorney Mr. David Ugwu), and Registrar of Deeds Ministry of Lands and Survey, Enugu State as defendants,

In the petition dated September 17, 2021, and copied to the office of the State Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice (sighted by our correspondent on Monday), the NSE chair appealed to the Acting CJ to urgently intervene and halt the imminent fraud.

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She added that what the retired CJ was about to do violates section 294 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.

The petition partly read: “With humility Sir, I am the 2nd Defendant in the above suit. The matter came up in the Court list of Hon. the Chief Judge of Enugu State, Hon. Justice N. Emehelu C.J. on Friday 3rd September, 2021 for judgment.

“I was unable to attend the Court on that date due to the burial rights ceremonies of my late husband Sir, Chief Dr. Ugwu N. Ujam. I later heard that the judgment was duly delivered, and my representative has continued to visit the Court clerk for a Certified Copy of the said Judgment.

“It is in public domain that the Hon former Chief Judge retired on 7th day of September, 2021 without issuing and signing the purported judgment. I have it on good authority that the purported judgment is still under typing to be returned to the retired judicial officer for signing and back dated.

“Please, I pray your Lordship to put a halt to this fraud, and send the case back for retrial de novo in line with due process of all.”

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Our correspondent confirmed that the former Chief Judge, left office on 7/9/2021, and the statutory 7days allowed under section 294(1)of the Nigerian Constitution elapsed about the 14/9/2021 when she had seized to be a Judge in the High Court of Enugu state.

Section 294(1) of the 1999 constitution as amended, states that: “every court established under this constitution shall deliver its decision in writing not later than ninety days after the conclusion of evidence, and final addresses and furnish all parties to the cause or matter determined with duly authenticated copies of the decision within seven days of the delivery thereof.”

Meanwhile, a legal practitioner and former governorship candidate of the Independent Democrats in Enugu State in 2015, Prince Charles Ibeh has condemned the act describing it as unconstitutional.

He lamented that a judgment the former CJ delivered on January 15, 2021 in Suit No. E/243m/2017 between: Innocent Owo, and another Vs Dr. George Eneh, and another is yet to be signed.

According to him “this is eight months and 12 days the judgment was delivered, and it has not been signed. And she has retired. As I speak to you the decision has not been communicated to us.

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“This is unacceptable. We have to wait for so long to get the decision of court. You can imagine the frustration our client is going through now and other litigants who suffered the same fate” he lamented.

When contacted for reaction, Ehemelu, questioned our reporter whether he works through telephone.

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She queried; “do you work with telephone? Is it telephone you use to work? If there is anything you want to call my attention to, you do it properly. You do it properly the way it should be done. Is it telephone? Okay, thank you.

“I am coming from the office, so whatever you want to send you can send through the office …. You know how to do it. Thank you,” and switched off her phone.

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