From: Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court has dismissed an application by Sen. Annie Okonkwo seeking to set aside an earlier judgment delivered on July 8, 2015, in favour of Senators Andy Ubah, Stella Oduah and all national and state assembly members from Anambra State.
In the said application which was dismissed for lacking in merit, Sen. Okonkwo asked the court to set aside the judgment delivered by another Justice of Federal High Court, Justice Adeniyi Ademola on the ground that it was obtained by fraud.
But Justice Dimgba in his ruling said that the application was an abuse of court process and dismissed it for lack of merit.
He said that one of the reliefs sought contained an internal contradiction adding that the materials placed before him as evidence appeared to be at war with each other.
“In the first case, the applicants in their material appear to accept that the judgment of Justice Ademola on July 8 read in open court is valid. But that the real grouse is with the Certified True Copy (CTC) of the same judgment procured by the applicants after the said judgment has been read in open court. If the real grouse is with the certified true copy, then my view is that the proper prayer to make is for setting aside of the CTC itself.”
“Alternatively, for an administrative letter to be written to the registrar of the court for the withdrawal of the CTC and a re-issuance of another one that reflects accurately what the applicants understand to be the judgment as read in open court.”
“The proper prayer cannot be the setting aside of the judgment because from what has been presented, there is nothing very wrong with the judgment as read in open court,” Dimgba said.
Dimgba held that the party asking the court to exercise its discretion in its favour, must provide the court with sufficient material to use and exercise its discretion.
“In asking that I set aside Ademola’s judgment on the basis that the CTC departs from the real judgment read in court, the applicants have relied on alleged audio recording of the said judgment.
“It appears to me, and I hold that this audio recording is of doubtful legal reliability. By Section 294 of the Constitution, judgments of court are in writing and not otherwise.
“Judgements of the court are the manuscript which is part of the record of the court and signed by the judge upon delivery in open court.”
He said it was only the original manuscript of a judgment delivered in open court and signed the judge that could be used to challenge a judgment.
The judge further noted that since the applicants had already filed an appeal on the said judgment, the suit at the Court of Appeal and the one in the Federal High Court could not co-exist.
Counsel to Okonkwo, Mr Assam Assam (SAN), had argued that the judgment was a fraud because the certified true copy of the judgment was different in terms of content and material from the one read in the court.
He said he had attached an audio recording of the judgment in support of the application.