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Court sets aside own judgment, as Anambra Central Senatorial election rerun holds today

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The Federal High Court, Abuja, has set aside its earlier judgment directing the swearing in of Dr. Obiora Okonkwo as the senator representing Anambra Central Senatorial District.

This paves the way for the re-run election holding today in the district.

Justice John Tsoho had on December 13, last year, directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to immediately issue a Certificate of Return to Okonkwo as the senator for the district on the strength of the consent judgment.

He also ordered Senate President Bukola Saraki to “forthwith” swear in Okonkwo, and whereby the Certificate of Return had earlier been issued anyone, such should be withdrawn and issued to Okonkwo.

Delivering ruling yesterday on application filed by INEC, seeking variation of the judgment to enable it conduct the rerun, as directed by the Court of Appeal, the Judge held that the plaintiff, Okonkwo, had misled the court into getting the consent judgment.

Justice Tsoho added that he was liable to set aside the earlier judgment, because it was not based on merit.

He also took judicial notice of three earlier judgments from the Court of Appeal, ordering INEC to conduct a re-run election for the district within 90 days and excluded the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from the election scheduled for today for failing to participate in the primary elections.

The Judge further held that in the doctrine of precedence, the Court of Appeal’s decision took precedence over and above that of any lower court.

He, therefore, submitted that his court, being a lower court, was bound by the decision of the appellate court in the instant case.

He also disagreed with Okonkwo that he was not a party to the Appeal Court case, saying the fact that Okonkwo was not a party to the case was immaterial so far his party, PDP, was.

He consequently adjourned the case indefinitely, pending the outcome of the appeal filed by PDP at the Supreme Court.

INEC had approached the court, asking it to set aside its consent judgment, so as to enable it conduct the re-run election in the said district, as ordered by the Appeal Court.

Meanwhile, Okonkwo has indicated his intention to challenge the exercise at the appellate court.

In a statement he personally signed, Okonkwo rejected the decision of the court to set aside the consent judgment in his favour, saying he has instructed his lawyers to proceed on appeal immediately.


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