Notable 2016 Divorce Case: Justice Theresa Uzokwe (Abia State CJ) v. Dr Afam Uzokwe: An interesting case where the court ruled against its own

This is an interesting divorce petition where Dr Afam Uzokwe, a medical doctor asked the court to dissolve the marriage between him and Hon Justice Theresa Uzokwe (the current Chief Judge of Abia State).

The brief fact of the case was that Dr Uzokwe and Justice Uzokwe got married on the 19th March, 1987 at the Holy Ghost Cathedral, Ogui Enugu. The couple thereafter lived together and cohabited at various addresses in Aba, Abia State, their last place of abode prior to the filing of the petition for divorce by Dr Uzokwe, was at No. 1 Kings Park Avenue, Abayi, Aba. The couple was blessed with three children: two boys and one girl. The marital relationship between the couple had turned sour, hence Dr Uzokwe filed divorce petition in order to part ways, with Justice Uzokwe on the ground that her acts of cruelty was endangering his life

According to the testimony of the petitioner, Dr Uzokwe, she (Justice Uzokwe) was uncontrollable. She would leave the house at will and stayed as long as she wished. In 1999, she was to travel outside the country, but never told him (her husband) until a day to her departure. She did not tell him where she was travelling to. Eventually, she travelled and stayed for 3 months. She was travelling for conferences and coming back days after the conference had ended. Her behaviour kept his sisters and parents away from his house for over twenty years. It was only his father who would come once in a while she was weird and wherever she went people made nasty comments about her. She is aggressive. She indoctrinated the children of the marriage against him, the petitioner. She would not allow his mother cook in the kitchen and she engaged in verbal abuse against her. She called his mother all sorts of name: witch. She connived with the A. C. Of Police in Aba, Mr. Gwadebe, and he was arrested in his hospital on 15/01/2003 and locked up in police cell, in Umuabakwa and Umuahia for three days. He claims that these acts of cruelty from the wife is endangering his life.

Justice Uzokwe filed her answer/reply to the petition and the petition proceeded to hearing.

Dr Uzokwe gave evidence for himself and tendered into evidence, some documentary exhibits. Justice Uzokwe did not offer parole evidence, however ten (10) witnesses testified for and on her behalf. Some documentary exhibits were admitted into evidence, at the instance of Justice Uzokwe. Learned counsel to the parties at the trial, filed and exchanged written addresses. The learned trial judge Hon Justice Obande Ogbuinya of Ebonyi State High Court (as he then was) at the end, entered judgment for the Dr Uzokwe and dissolved the marriage between the parties on the ground of cruelty.

Justice Uzokwe appealed unsuccessfully to the court of Appeal.

One interesting aspect of the Appeal is the Justice Uzokwe’s counsel, Chief (Mrs.) A. N. Muoma, SAN attacked the Learned trial Judge, Justice Ogbuinya Personally in his appellate brief and claimed that “instead of the learned trial judge being preoccupied with writing a good judgment, he was engaged in an unnecessary voyage of grammatical bombast and flowery verbosity, hence losing focus in the determination of the issues in the case”. She  further described the judgement of the Justice Ogbuinya as “wicked”.

The court of appeal held that such attack on the personality of a trial judge by a counsel can be rightly regarded as professional misconduct.

Below is the full judgement reported by www.lawpavilionplus.com

 

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