Billionaire businessman, Prince Arthur Eze, has petitioned the National Judicial Council (NJC) against Chief Judge of Anambra State, Justice Onochie Anyachibelu, over the lingering land dispute between Ukpo and Abba communities.
Also, the President General of Ukpo Development Union, Hon Chuks Chukwuka, has also petitioned the Nigerian Bar Association against a Senior Advodate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Arthur Obi, over the same matter.
In a petition he personally signed, Prince Eze said the legal tussle over the disputed land had been settled by the Supreme Court but the Chief Judge of Anambra has assigned a suit on the same matter to a High Court judge for adjudication.
He said, in a judgment on the Ukpo/Abba land dispute, “the Supreme Court in SC/5B9/2D16 held that the land in despute belongs to and is owned by Ukpo community. As the Apex Court in the land, this decision of the Supreme Court is and ought to be the final judgment in respect of the matter, and no other court, much less a High Court, has the power or jurisdiction to entertain the matter again.
“This is because after the decision of the Supreme Court on the matter, the Abba people boasted that the Chief Judge will re-hear the case. True to the boast, the Chief Judge assigned the case to the High Court, Neni for trial. The court heard the case and threw it out, because the Supreme Court had determined the matter. The same lawyers brought a motion to set aside the judgment and relist the suit.
“Thereafter, the Chief Judge, assigned the case again to another court. This is wrong in the judiciary. It is totally out of tune with all known judicial principles in the administration of justice.
“Against this backdrop, I appeal to you to wade into this conduct of the Chief Judge, and determine whether it is right and proper for the Chief Judge can assign a case for trial, when he knew that the Supreme Court had determined the case.” In his petition, Ukpo Improvement Union PG told the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee of the NBA that Chief Okafor’s action in taking the land dispute case determined by the Supreme Court was capable of making the legal profession a laughing stock to members of the public.
The union stated that a land dispute between Ukpo and Abba communities in Anambra State was litigated upon up to the Supreme Court and the apex court delivered a judgment in which it held that the land in dispute is owned by Ukpo community. The petition said: “Naturally, the decision by the Apex Court in the land should be the final judgment over the matter. However, it is sad and unfortunate that a senior counsel, Arthur Obi Okafor SAN, proceeded to file a fresh suit in respect of the same matter on behalf of his clients, the Abba Community, in the High Court of Anambra State.
“It is a fact that the Supreme Court has the last say on any litigation issue in Nigeria. That courts decision is final and unassailable. It is therefore a huge surprise that Arthur Obi Okafor SAN, should re-litigate in the High Court on a matter already litigated in the Supreme Court and judgment given
“The activities of this senior counsel is capable of creating confusion in the administration of justice and creating a pall of doubt on the sustainability of the principle of hierarchy of courts in Nigeria. It is capable of setting a bad precedent in which the judiciary and the legal profession will be treated with contempt.”