Justice Chima Centus Nweze raised not a few eyebrows on Tuesday when he read a dissenting judgment in the review appeal filed by Emeke Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party.
Ihedioha and his party had asked a 7-man panel headed by Chief Justice Tanko Muhammad to annul its verdict of 14 January that ousted him as Imo governor and declared Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress as the winner and thus the lawful governor.
In the majority verdict read by Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, six members of the panel agreed to: “The judgement of the Supreme Court is a finality”.
The justices did not however award any costs unlike the Bayelsa case where lawyers to the APC and David Lyon were slammed with N60m cost to be paid to the defendants.
Nweze in his dissenting opinion, agreed that the court could not change its mind on any decision, having not done so in the past.
However, he said the apex court failed to resolve a portion of the Court of Appeal judgment which struck out the petition by Hope Uzodinma.
He thus held that the Supreme Court was without jurisdiction to have given the judgment it gave declaring Uzodinma winner of the Imo election.
Nweze was born 61 years ago, on 25 September 1958 in Obollo, Udenu Local Government Area of Enugu State. He is a Christian of the Roman Catholic Denomination and is married to Justice Ugonne Jacinta Nweze of the Enugu State Judiciary. They have five children and a grandchild.
He attended St John Cross Seminary, Nsukka, from 1972 -1977, emerging with a Distinction in the West African School Certificate Examination, WASCE.
He studied law between 1979 and 1983 at the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus. In 1983, he represented the Faculty of Law, and indeed, all Nigerian Law Faculties, at the Phillip Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition in Washington DC, as the Chief Oralist. He also obtained an LLM and a doctorate in the same university years later.
He was called to the Nigerian bar in 1984 and had his NYSC year in Bauchi between 1984 and 1985.
He bagan private legal practice in 1985. Ten years after, he was elevated to the High Court Bench of Enugu State.
While on the High Court Bench, he served as Chairman, Second Robbery and Firearms Tribunal, Enugu State, 1996 -1998; Chairman, Robbery and Firearms Tribunal, Nsukka, 1998 -1999; Member, Ondo State Local Government Election Petition Tribunal, 1999; Chairman, Ogun State Governorship and Legislative Houses Election Petition Tribunal, 1999; Administrative Judge, Nsukka Judicial Division, Enugu State, 2001. He was appointed a Justice of the Court of Appeal of Nigeria, February 15, 2008; and served there until October, 2014, when he was, finally, elevated to Nigeria’s apex court as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, October 29, 2014.
Nweze had served in various extra-judicial capacities. These include: Member, DFID Access to Justice Programme, Enugu State, 2003; Member, National Working Group on the Reform of Criminal Justice Administration, 2004
[the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, is the brainchild of this
; Team Member, Enugu State Sector Strategic Plan, 2004; PATHS-DFID Hon Consultant, District Health System Law/Regulations, 2004; Member, OSIWARD C Expert Consultative Forum on Federal Budget Act and Facilitator, Enugu State Justice Sector Reform Team.
A former Convenor/Co-coordinator, LL. M (International Human Rights Programme), and Visiting Human Rights Scholar, Faculty of Law, University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, 2000 -2008; Justice Nweze, who was a Distinguished Scholar, Pro Bono, Faculty of Law, Enugu State University of Science and Technology, ESUT, Enugu, was formerly, a Visiting Associate Professor of Law, Faculty of Law, Ebonyi State University and Member, International Advisory Board, Annual Survey of International & Comparative Law (Golden Gate University School of Law, San Francisco, USA).
He had published many articles and books and co-authored many books as well.
He has also won many laurels since he became a judge of the Enugu High Court in 1995, 10 years after he began private practice upon being called to the Nigerian bar.
Among his awards were the Nancy Pelosi Congressional Award, 2015;Distinguished Scholarship Awardee, Golden Gate University, San Fransisco, California, USA; Justice of the Year Award, 1997;Rotary International District 1940 Award, Rotaract Club, UNEC: Award for Professional Service, 1998.
He also won the Dignity of Man Award, UNN Alumni Association, 2001; and Award for Excellence, Law Students’ Association, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka;