By Yemi Oyeyemi, Abuja
The judiciary appears to be baring its fangs with the gavel and the hammer. It has come down hard on two political forum,-shoppers who tested its will less than 72 hours after the head of that arm of government, Chief Justice Muhammad Tanko, warned seven heads of state high courts.
The legal tussle over the national leadership of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) on Thursday took a new twist with the Court of Appeal in Abuja imposing a N10 million fine on two chieftains of the party for engaging in abuse of court process in the matter.
The huge sum was imposed on the two chieftains as punishment for bringing what the court considered as a frivolous and incompetent appeal before it.
Curiously, however, the legal counsels of the APGA chieftains were spared by the court.
The two chieftains: Chiefs Edozie Njoku and Chinedu Benedict Okoro had, in their joint appeal, which had Sylvester Ezeokenwa and five others as respondents, asked the court to resolve the dispute on APGA national leadership in which a judgment had earlier been delivered by the Kano division of the Appeal court.
Justice Jummai Hanatu Zankey in a ruling on the appeal held that the Court of Appeal in Abuja has no jurisdiction to entertain the appeal on the strength of the final judgment of its Kano division in respect of the matter.
In a unanimous decision of three Justices of the court led by its President, Justice Monica Dongban- Mensem, it was held that the Abuja division of the Court of Appeal was bound to follow the decision of its Kano division.
Justice Zankey said that the appeal of the two APGA chieftains amounted to asking the court to sit on appeal over its own earlier judgment.
“It is a settled law that the Court of Appeal, once it gives final decision on any matter cannot go back to the same issue except where there are typographical errors.”
“The proper place for the two appellants to go to ventilate their views is the Supreme Court and not any division of the Court of Appeal.
Justice Zankey proceeded to award N10 million against the two appellants to be paid to Sylvester Ezeokenwa and APGA who are the first and second respondents respectively in the matter.
The Kano division of the court had on August 10. 2021 resolved the APGA national chairmanship dispute in favor of Victor Oye, and also upheld the primary election conducted by his leadership which produced former governor of Central Bank of Nigeria CBN , Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo as APGA governorship candidate for November 6 gubernatorial election in Anambra state.
Justice Hamma Simon Zamani of the Kano division had in the judgment in Kano, set aside the judgment of a Jigawa State High Court, which had earlier declared Jude Okeke and Chukwuma Umeoji as APGA’s national chairman and Anambra governorship candidate respectively.
But rather than go to the Supreme Court to challenge the Court of Appeal verdict, both Edozie Njoku and Chinedu Okoro moved to Abuja division of the same court with an appeal.