The Federal High Court has given its ruling in the case between Barrister Chukwunweike (Chike) Maduekwe v. PDP and Ors in suit no: FCT/HC/CV/1110/2015.
The defendant/judgment Debtor had earlier filed a motion dated 9th February 2018 asking the court to set aside its judgment delivered on 5th December, 2017. The application was brought on the grounds that the Judgment in the suit was obtained by fraud and that the honourable Court has no jurisdiction to entertain the subject matter of the case being an internal affair of a political party without the provision of Section 87 (a) of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended.
The motion was supported with a 24-paragraph affidavit deposed to by one Nanchang Ndam, a staff of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). In paragraphs 13-14, the judgment Debtor/Applicant admitted that the judgment Creditor/Respondent actually paid the sum of 4.5 Million as Expression of Interest Form Code PD002/NA and Nomination form fees. The applicant therefore argued before the court that since the issues of expression of interest form and nomination form fees are: “Strictly internal affairs of political party, the Honourable court was least suited and indeed would have declined jurisdiction to entertain the matter dealing with the internal affairs of the applicant.
Furthermore, in the applicant’s written address, two issues were granted for the court’s just determination vis a vis whether the fraudulent concealment of the facts that the applicant conducted primary election in Anambra central Senatorial district and fact that payment for Expression of interest and Nomination Form did not impact on the judgment and thus liable to be set aside and whether the Honourable Court has jurisdiction to entertain the suit which borders on internal affairs of political party.
In response to the said motion on notice, the plaintiff/judgment Creditor filed 5 paragraphs of counter affidavit challenging the said motion on notice. In the written address in support of the counter affidavit of the judgment creditor filed by Chinedu Ezeh on behalf of the Respondent, the Respondent invited the court to consider two germane issues vis a vis: Whether the applicant has proved the allegation of fraud or fraudulent concealment of facts to warrant the setting aside of the Judgment of this honourable court delivered on 5th December 2017; Whether the applicant can re-litigate the issue of the jurisdiction of the honourabele Court to entertain the suit.
At the hearing of the application, the counsel for the respondent, Mr. Collins Ike Onwuemelie had submitted on his behalf that what the applicant was inviting the court to do was to sit on appeal on his subsisting judgment. He also submitted that when there is allegation of fraud in a matter, the applicant must supply cogent and credible particulars of fraud. He further submitted that the applicant fully participated in the trial proceedings and cannot come at this stage to complain of service. He reminded the court that the issue of jurisdiction has been raised at the substantive suit.
As the matter was heard on merit and judgment has been duly delivered, instead of appealing the said judgments, the applicant has resorted to this application to re-open and re-litigate the suit which judgment has been delivered upon. He also told the court that the intention of the applicant by this ploy was to deprive the judgment Creditor of enjoying the fruit of his judgment. He urged the court to discountenance the argument of the applicant and refuse the application in the interest of justice. He also asked for punitive cost.
In the well considered judgment, the court found that the applicant actively participated in the trial proceedings. The Court noted that the Applicant had already challenged its jurisdiction to hear the suit and that the application was merely inviting the court to sit on appeal on its own judgment delivered on 5th December, 2017. The court held further that having considered the issue of jurisdiction in the substantive suit; the court cannot re-open the suit by his application.
The court further noted that the suit being the kind which can be determined vide affidavit evidence, the applicant did not file any response/counter affidavit to the judgment creditor’s affidavit therefore they cannot come at this stage to challenge the suit. The court observes that a successful party should enjoy the fruit of his judgment. The court also found that from the records of the court, the applicant was fully represented in the proceedings of the court. The court held that it does not have jurisdiction to re-open or re-litigate a matter upon which judgment it has delivered therefore is functus officio on the matter at this stage. Finally the court found no merit in the case and dismissed same. No cost was awarded against the applicant.
TheNigerialawyer recalls that by an enrolment order dated 5th December, 2017 the court had declared that the 1st Defendant is not entitled to retain the N4.5 million Naira paid by the plaintiff as the PDP senate Expression of interest E01 and Nomination form when the Defendant refused, failed and or neglected to conduct the primary election to select its flag bearer for Anambra Central Senatorial District. The Court had also ordered the 1st Defendant to refund the plaintiff the E01 and Nomination form fees paid in the sum of N4.5 million being monies had and received by the 1st Defendant for a failed construction.
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