The Council of Ogoni Professionals and the National Union of Ogoni Students ((USA), affiliates of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) wish to state our position on the sham trial of 12 members of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) in Nigeria including Messrs Legborsi Pyagbara, Fegalo Nsuke, Bariara Kpalap, Friday Bemah, Chief Keeper Gbaranor, Prince Biira, Dike Theophilus, Boy Nnaa, Theophilus Joseph Meekor Mbagha, Apostle Celestine Viura, Mr Alex and Adamgbo Sylvester.
We have carefully followed the proceedings and are outraged by the conduct of the judge, Hon. Justice Constance D. Green of the Rivers State High Court, Nchia Division whose conduct in the trial utterly disregards known judicial procedures, ethics, and the impartiality expected of a judge in such a sensitive and very serious matter.
We have become seriously disturbed by the decisions of Hon. Justice Constance D. Green on Tuesday, February 14, 2023, during which the judge attempted to take a motion to substitute claimants in the suit while a Preliminary Objection (PO) challenging the jurisdiction of the court is pending. In fact, the judge refused to take the PO and attempted to take a motion seeking to substitute all the claimants with fresh names.
This suggests that Hon. Justice Constance Green of the Rivers State High Court in Nchia may have a mindset on the issue and is compromised.
We will further wish to drive home our points with the facts supporting our accusations and lack of confidence in Hon. Justice Constance Green to be fair in this trial.
1. The case is about committal proceedings alleging that the defendants disobeyed the judgment of the same court.
2. The judgment in question for which the committal proceedings is filed was delivered on May 4, 2020.
3. An appeal was filed and entered against the judgment by the second defendant, Fegalo Nsuke, on August 4, 2020.
4. The contempt proceedings were filled nevertheless, even after the appeal was filed and served on all parties.
5. The defendants filed their responses to the allegation, notifying the court of the pending appeal and stating that the court lacks jurisdiction to hear the matter.
6. Despite the responses from the defendants, Justice Constance D. Green still pushed forward to hear the case prompting a preliminary objection to be filed challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the matter.
7. On February 2, 2022, the claimants wrote to their counsel in the suit, Naagbanton Tsaana-Kaa to disengage his legal services and asked him not to further represent them in the suit any more.
8. Another Claimant, Pastor Obadiah Baah filed an affidavit before the court asking the court to strike out the suit because he is not ready to go on with the suit.
9. On February 14, 2023 when the matter came up for the P.O to be heard, the judge refused to take the preliminary objection and instead attempted to allow the debriefed self imposed claimants' counsel to take a motion to substitute all the claimants in the suit.
10. Justice Constance D. Green further said that she will take the motion to substitute the claimants before she entertains the preliminary objection which is challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter since there is a pending appeal.
The big questions now are:
(a) why is Justice Constance D. Green refusing to take a preliminary objection before her and is instead guiding a debriefed lawyer to substitute claimants who have notified the court of their intentions to discontinue the case?
(b) Why is Justice Constance D. Green attempting to assume jurisdiction in a matter for which an appeal has been entered and the appeal court processes are before her?
(c) What is Justice Constance D. Green's interest in the matter?
(d) What does Justice Constance D. Green have against the Defendants?
(e) Does Justice Constance D. Green not know that where there is a preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of a court on a matter, that the preliminary objection will be taken first before any other motion?
The Council of Ogoni Professionals and the National Union of Ogoni Students , USA strongly condemn the actions of Justice Constance D. Green in the case, and will further take every necessary legal action(s)to ensure that the defendants are not denied justice.
While COP and NUOS hold the Nigerian judiciary in high esteem, we will not expect that Justice Constance D. Green be allowed to drag the reputation of the Nigerian Judiciary into the mud.
Daewifa Barima Wifa
For: Council of Ogoni Professionals (COP, USA)
St. Louis, IL, USA.
President, National Union of Ogoni Students (NUOS USA),
Phoenix, Arizona, USA.