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Court forecloses APC’s hope in Anambra central senatorial poll


INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu

The Federal High Court, Abuja division, has dismissed the suit brought by Sharon Ikeazor of the All Progressives Congress (APC), seeking to compel the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to accept her as a substitute to Dr. Chris Ngige for the Anambra Central Senatorial district election.

Ikeazor had dragged INEC before Justice Anwuli Chikere, asking the court to compel it to accept her as the candidate of the party in place of Ngige, who withdrew from the election. ‎

Delivering judgment on the matter, Justice Chikere held that the time for political parties to nominate candidates for elective positions in respect of the 2015 elections had passed.

“The time for the nomination, withdrawal or substitution of candidates for the court-ordered election in Anambra Central senatorial district election has elapsed.‎

“As decided by the Court of Appeal in the case of Labour Party (LP) against INEC, there is no room for fresh candidates in a court ordered election.‎”

The judge consequently dismissed the suit for lacking in merit.

The Supreme Court had on February 10, put to rest, the legal battle that had denied the people of Anambra Central Senatorial district representation in the Senate, when it dismissed an appeal filed by Senator Uche Ekwunife, challenging the cancellation of her election for the district. ‎

The Anambra State Election Petition Tribunal and the Court of Appeal, Awka division, had nullified the election that produced Ekwunife, who was a candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the said poll and ordered for the conduct of a fresh poll to fill the vacancy.‎

Dissatisfied with the decision of the appellate court, Ekwunife approached the Supreme Court to set aside the verdict. ‎

But delivering judgment in the dispute, a five-man panel of the apex court headed by Justice Tanko Mohammed held that it had no jurisdiction to entertain matters emanating from the conduct of National Assembly elections.

In the lead judgment that was handed down by Justice Amina Augie, the court had affirmed the position of the respondent in the suit, Chief Victor Umeh of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), who was Ekwenife’s challenger at the lower courts. ‎

Justice Augie stated that Appeal Court is the terminal point of all disputes over National Assembly polls, adding that the apex court lacked jurisdiction to hear and determine Ekwenife’s appeal in respect of the Anambra Central Senatorial election dispute.

“Looking closely at the wordings of Section 246 (3), it is clear that the decision of the Court of Appeal is final. This, the decision, therefore has no business climbing or driving to this court for adjudication because this court is completely bereft of jurisdiction to entertain here and determine any such appeal from the lower court. ‎

“Once the court below delivers its judgment on a National Assembly Election Petition Appeal, the judgment is final and this court has no jurisdiction to hear any appeals related thereto no matter how cleverly framed,” Justice Augie maintained. ‎

She further declared that Umeh’s preliminary objections to Ekwenife’s appeal succeeded, saying, “This court lacks jurisdiction. This appeal is struck out.”‎‎

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