- Minister Directs NJC to Investigate CJ, Director
More damning facts are now emerging on why the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami, last week, asked the National Judicial Council (NJC) and the Inspector-General of Police (Police IG) to investigate the Chief Judge of Enugu State, Justice I.A. Umezulike, for alleged misconduct amd forgery.
An in depth investigation by the 247ureports team has been able to obtain copies of the forged judgment order; Deeds of Gift, being the gratification in the form of parcels of land received by the Director of Litigation, Enugu State High Court, Barr. Vincent Aneke; and the receipt of the resale of parts of the same plots of land to one Ndubuisi Stephen of Umunnukwu, Amechi-Uwani Awkananaw, Enugu at the cost of N1 million on 26th November 2010.
It would be recalled that the Honourable Minister in a letter with Ref No: HAGF/ENUGU/2000/I and dated February 4, 2016, also directed the Inspector General of Police to investigate the conduct of Justice Umezulike and one Mr. Vincent Aneke, the Director of Litigation at the Enugu State High Court over allegation that they both altered a court judgment and order in Suit No. E/170/76 dated the June 25, 1985.
The letter which was signed by the Special Assistant to the minister, Mr. Okoi Obono-Obla, also directed the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission to investigate Aneke for corruption and abuse of office.
The minister’s letter was sequel to a petition to him by a lawyer, Mr. Peter Eze.
The petition dated November 25, 2015 complained of forgery and corrupt practices against the Enugu Chief Judge and the Director of Litigation.
The petition read in part: “On June 25, 1985, Justice P. K. Nwokedi, the Chief Judge of Anambra State (who later became a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria) delivered a judgment in Suit No. E/170/76: Nnaji & Ors. V. Nwugwu Ors. The judgment awarded the plaintiffs, the Umunneshi Family of Umunaji Ngene, Amechi Uwani, title to a parcel of land known as and called “Agbirigba Umu-Nensi.”
“Surprisingly, sometime in 2009, Aneke and the Chief Judge of Enugu State, Justice Umezulike ,forged a judgment order in the said suit, in which Justice Umezulike and Aneke claimed that Justice Umezulike heard the said suit in 1985 and delivered judgment in the suit. No mention is made in the said judgment order, that the suit was heard by Hon. Justice P. K. Nwokedi. The said judgment order was also purportedly signed by Mr. Vin Aneke, Director, Litigation and Courts Division, High Court, Enugu State, on the same date.
“It will interest you to note that Justice Umezulike was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1980 and was only elevated to the Bench in 1993 when he was appointed a judge of the High Court of Enugu State. At the time he was said to have signed the said judgment order in 2009, Justice Umezulike knew that he was not the judge who heard the case, and that he was not a High Court Judge in 1985, and certainly was never a High Court Judge in Anambra State.
“Similarly, Aneke was only called to the Nigerian Bar in 2002 after reading evening law, and was not a lawyer in 1985. He was also not the Director Litigation and Courts Division, in the High Court of Anambra State in 1985.
“The purpose of Justice Umezulike and Aneke forging and uttering the said judgment order, was for the Judgment Order to be used by the Plaintiffs in Suit No. E/170/76 Nnaji & Ors. v. Nwugwu & Ors to levy execution pursuant to the judgment and hand over possession of the said Agbirigba Umu-Nensi land to the plaintiff.
“Permit me to point out that both Justice Umezulike and Aneke, knew that under the Sheriffs and Civil Process Act and the Judgment Enforcement Rules of Enugu State the fraudulent and criminal enterprise they had embarked upon was illegal. Thus (1) at the time application was made to enforce the judgment on 5/2/2009, the original parties to the suit were dead and contrary to Order V Rule 2, the dead plaintiffs were not substituted.
(2) Order V Rule 8 requires that as between the original parties to the suit, process should issue within 6 years;
(3) Six years had passed since the judgment was delivered and no leave of court was sought or obtained before the writ of possession was issued. I attach herewith and mark ANNEXURE 3 the Warrant for Possession signed by Justice Umezulike dated 6/2/2009. There is no note on the process to show that leave was sought and obtained.
(4) Both Justice Umezulike and Aneke knew that before the judgment could be enforced the above steps were required to be taken, and they deliberately closed their eyes so as to aid the plaintiffs enforce a judgment which had lapsed.
“The forged judgment order allegedly dated June 25, 1985 was then used by Aneke to apply to the Commissioner of Police, Enugu State, for policemen to enforce the court order.
“On March 27, 2009, Aneke, using the bailiffs of the High Court Enugu and with the connivance of Justice Umezulike took forcible possession of the land in dispute in the said case. At the back of the warrant of possession, is endorsed the acknowledgment by the plaintiffs that the land was handed over to them.”
Reeling out additional scathing facts about the alleged corrupt practices of the Director of Litigation and the Chief Judge, who was also alleged to have gravely compromised in the what has become better known as the “Chicken Impeachment” of the former Deputy to Ex-Governor Sullivan Chime, of Enugu State, Mr. Sunday Onyebuchi, Mr. Peter Eze who was one of Onyebuchi’s counsels, maintained: “In furtherance of his corrupt activities and as payment for the forgery of the document, Mr. Aneke accepted a gift of two plots of land (within the said Agbirigba land) from the plaintiffs as part of his reward for procuring the forged judgment order and assisting in handing over possession of the land to the plaintiffs. The gift of the land was evidenced by a deed of gift between Chief C. O. Agah (JP) and Mr. Simple Offor Egbo for and on behalf of Umeneshi Family Umunnaji Ngene Amechi Uwani Autonomous Community, Enugu South Local Government Area, Enugu State “Givers” and Barr. V. A. Aneke “Receiver/Beneficiary”. Copy of the Deed of Gift is hereto attached and marked ANNEXURE 5. Chief Sampson N. Nnaji and Chief Joseph N. Ukwu were witnesses to the agreement. This document as your investigations will reveal was backdated to conceal the corrupt nature of the transaction.
“It is interesting to note that Chief C. O. Agah, Chief Joseph N. Ukwu and Chief Sampson Nnaji were the same persons who signed the back of the Warrant of Possession acknowledging that possession of the land in question had been delivered to them by the bailiffs of the High Court.
“On 26th November 2010, Mr. Aneke sold the two plots of land to one Agbo Ndubuisi Stephen for a sum of N1,000,000. Copy of the receipt issued by Mr. Aneke to Mr. Agbo is hereto attached as Annexure 6.
“I believe that a case of forgery, uttering and corrupt practices has been made out against the above named persons.
“Permit me to point out that in August 2014 I brought some of the above facts to the attention of the National Judicial Council through the Chief Justice of the Federation, but I was surprised to receive a letter written on behalf of the Chief Justice of the Federation informing me that an explanation had been proffered by Hon. Justice Umezulike which was considered satisfactory. Since then though, I have come into possession of the documents relating to the alleged gift to Mr. Aneke and his sale of the land, confirming that the said Judgment Order was procured with a fraudulent intent.
“The purpose of this letter is to humbly request you to direct a thorough investigation of the said forgery, uttering and corrupt activities and abuse of office by Hon. Justice I. A. Umezulike and Mr. Vincent Aneke.
“We believe that with the anti corruption stance of the present President Buhari Government, any public officer who abuses his office, no matter his status, must be made to face the law”.
Meanwhile, grapevine has it that the Independent Corrupt Practices and Related Offences Tribunal (ICPC) has also moved against Hon. Justice Umezulike and Mr. Vincent Aneke over the petition by Mr. Peter Ezeh alleging numerous instances of corrupt practices.
Although facts on this are still trickling in, it has been reliably gathered that Mr. Aneke has gone underground with the latter going underground after serving the Commission with an injunction restraining the it from arresting him.
The Chief Judge is also having a running battle with the Enugu Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association over numerous allegations ranging from corrupt practices to obstruction of justice and slow pace of justice in the State.