➥ CASE SUMMARY OF:
Dr. Jerry Ugokwe v The Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN) (2005)
by “PipAr” B.C. Chima
ECOWAS – ECW/CCJ/JUD/03/05
➥ JUDGEMENT DELIVERED ON:
7th October, 2005
➥ AREA(S) OF LAW
Jurisdiction over election petition.
➥ NOTABLE DICTA
⦿ JUDGEMENT GIVEN WITHOUT JURISDICTION IS NULL
para. 25: “25. For clarity, the Defendant and the Intervener raised a serious issue of lack of competence of the Court to adjudicate on the matter. It is trite law that a judgment given without jurisdiction amounts to a nullity no matter how well detailed or conducted the proceedings are.”
⦿ AN INTERVENER’S INTEREST IN AN ACTION
para. 34: “In general, “interest in an action” is appreciated with reference to the orders sought in the applications of an Intervener possessing an interest in the resolution of the dispute submitted to the court, and when these orders have no other purpose than to support or reject the order by another party.”
➥ LEAD JUDGEMENT DELIVERED BY:
Hon. Justice Hansine Donli
Hon. Justice Awa Nana Daboya
Hon. Justice El Mansour Tall
⦿ FOR THE APPLICANT
Wole Adebayo Esq.
⦿ FOR THE RESPONDENT
Mr. Ayodeji Akande Esq.
➥ CASE HISTORY
By Application dated 9th May, 2005, lodged at the Registry of Court on 12th May, 2005, and served on all the opposing Parties, the Applicant asserts having been declared elected as a Member the House of Representatives of Idemili North, South Federal Constituency of Nigeria, on the 16th of April, 2003 by the Independent National Electoral Commission; that not satisfied by the said declaration, Dr. Christian Okeke filed a petition (an appeal) at the Governors’ and House of Representatives Tribunal (Electoral Tribunal) at Awka to contest the declaration that Jerry Ugokwe was duly elected by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
The aforementioned Tribunal, before which the matter was brought, delivered its judgment on 30th November, 2004, annulling the election of the Applicant. The latter filed an appeal dated 10th December, 2004 against the Decision of the Tribunal; the Appeal Court, by its Judgment of 5th May, 2005, dismissed the Appeal and confirmed the earlier decision against which the appeal was filed.
This is the reason why the Applicant, Dr. Jerry Ugokwe has brought the case before the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice that his right to fair hearing has been infringed upon by the Electoral Tribunal and by the Federal Appeal Court of Nigeria.
By a second Application dated the same day, on 9 th May, 2005, and lodged at the Registry of the Court on 12 th May, 2005, the Applicant asked for a special interim Order for restraining the Independent National Electoral Commission (considered hereby under the person of the Federal Republic of Nigeria) from invalidating the certificate of attestation declaring him elected as Member of the National Assembly for his electoral constituency; nor grant the said certificate to another person; nor, take any steps towards replacing him with another person, under the pretext of executing any decision pending the determination of the case.
➥ ISSUE(S) & RESOLUTION
[PRELIMINARY OBJECTION: ALLOWED]
I. Concerning Jurisdiction
RULING: IN RESPONDENT’S FAVOUR.
para. 32 – 33: “32. Appealing against the decision of the National Court of Member States does not form part of the powers of the Court; the distinctive feature of the Community legal order of ECOWAS is that it sets forth a judicial monism of first and last resort in Community law. And, if the obligation to implement the decision of the Community Court of Justice lies with the national courts of Member States, the kind of relationship existing between the Community Court and these national courts of Member States are not of a vertical nature between the Community and the Member States, but demands an integrated Community legal order. The ECOWAS Court of Justice is not a Court of Appeal or a Court of cassation. 33. From all the pleas in law invoked by the Applicant, i.e. regarding the Court entertaining matters dealing with electoral disputes or the violation of his right in having his election annulled; and furthermore, as to the orders being sought against the execution of the Judgment already made by the Federal Appeal Court of the Member State of Nigeria the Court is incompetent.”
II. Concerning the Voluntary Application for Intervention
RULING: IN RESPONDENT’S FAVOUR.
para. 35 – 36: “35. In the instant case, the Intervener has sufficient interest in the Application of the Plaintiff, and his interest in the outcome of the dispute appears certain. This is because validating the Applicant’s election, if sanctioned by an Order, results ipso facto in the invalidation of the election of the intervener’s election. The interest manifested by the Intervener resides in the outcome of the suit. 36. In the present case, and according to the principle that the subsidiary follows from the principal; or still, according to the relationship of cause and effect, the Principal Application communicates its condition to the Intervener’s application. Consequently, since the Court does not have the jurisdiction to consider the Principal Application, the Intervener’s Application must fail.”
“38. The Court Declares itself incompetent to adjudicate on the principal Application of Jerry Ugokwe. 40. Consequently, the Court dismisses the Application for Joinder of Dr. Christian Okeke and all other similar Applications. 41. The Parties shall bear the costs.”
➥ MISCELLANEOUS POINTS
➥ REFERENCED (STATUTE)
Article 10(c) and (d) of the Supplementary Protocol;
Article 9, 10, 11, 76-2 of the Revised Treaty.
➥ REFERENCED (CASE)
⦿ FAIR TRIAL – SUPRA NATIONAL COURT
In the Case Concerning Bryan v. United Kingdom, 22 November 1995, paragraph 44, the European Court held that “A fair trial is a right which does no more than enable an aggrieved person to have recourse to a supra national court, so that the one who governs him may be condemned if the proof of a violation of his rights is established; the court must have jurisdiction to examine the points of fact and of law in the case which has come before it, in order that it may reform it…”
➥ REFERENCED (OTHERS)