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Appeal Court sacks Sekibo, two House of Reps members


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COURT of Appeal, Abuja Division yesterday, voided the elections of Senator George Thompsom Sekibo, representing Rivers East Senatorial District and two members of the House of Representatives, Kingsley Ogundu Chindah and Blessing Nsiegbe all of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP),

Delivering its judgment on an appeal lodged by Andrew Ibonule Uchendu and his party, the All Progressives Party (APC) against the decision of the Election Tribunal, the Appeal Court upheld the appeal and upturned the decision of the Rivers State National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal that sat in Abuja earlier this year.

The Justice Muazu Pindiga-led election tribunal had held that the APC candidate did not substantiate his claim that election did not hold as alleged.

However, in a dramatic shift of the burden of proof, the Court of Appeal yesterday held that the onus was on the respondents – Sekibo, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to lead evidence to prove that election held in compliance with the Electoral Act contrary to the claim of Uchendu and APC.
Consequently, the court ordered that fresh election be held in the senatorial district to reflect the wishes of the people.

Similarly, the appellate court nullified the elections of Kingsley Ogundu Chindah and Blessing Nsiegbe (PDP) representing Obio/Akpo Federal Constituency and Port-Harcourt 2 Federal Constituency of Rivers State.

In reaching that decision, the court upheld appeal no. CA/A/EPT/624/2015 and CA/A/EPT/625, instituted by Anthony Chinedu Okocha and Collins Owhondah of the APC and therefore set aside the judgment of the tribunal which had cleared Chinda and Nsiegbe.

As at press time, the court was yet to deliver three other verdicts regarding seats in the House of Representatives judgments scheduled.

They include the appeal filed by Ogbonna Nwuke against Jerome Amadi Eke (Etche/Omuonu Federal Constituency); Maureen Tamuno against Gogo Bright Tamuno (Okrika/Ogubolu) and Frank Chudi Wihioka against Boniface Emerengwa (Ikwere/Emuoha). 
The appellants in the three appeals are of the APC, while the respondents are of the PDP.

The court will today, deliver judgment in the appeal marked: CA/A/EPT/627/2015, by Igochukwu Auma of the APC and PDP’s Ken Chikere.

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