Appeal Court orders re-run in Anambra Central Senatorial district within 90 days
The Court of Appeal Abuja Division yesterday ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct an election re-run in the Anambra Central Senatorial District within 90 days.
The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and its candidate, Victor Umeh, had filed an appeal against the February 29, 2017, judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja, wherein the trial judge, Justice Anwuli Chikere, ordered the inclusion of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Uche Ekwenife in the scheduled Anambra Central Senatorial re-run poll.
The Anambra Central Senatorial seat at Upper Chamber of the National Assembly has been vacant for a while now following the nullification of Ekwenife’s election.
The Enugu Division of the Court of Appeal had in July 2015 voided Ekwenife’s election for not being “the product of a valid primary and was, therefore, not duly and legitimately nominated.
However, delivering judgment in the appeal yesterday, the three-man panel of the Appellate Court led by Justice Tinuade Akomolafe Wilson, dismissed the PDP’s preliminary objections on the issue of appellants’ locus standi and the court’s jurisdiction to entertain the matter.
Justice Akomolafe held that the appellants’ suit was not academic, as there were live issues in the appeal. In determining the main crux of the appeal, the appellate court held: “The rationale therefore, is correct as submitted by the appellants that the principle of guiding who can participate in a court ordered re-run election following the nullification of general election has been established in Labour Party Vs.
“INEC and it remains the law. The judge held that, “Where a court nullifies an election and orders a fresh election, a political party that participated in the annulled election at whose instance the election was nullified, cannot field a new candidate to contest in the fresh election.
“This is because the fresh election does not entail an entirely new process; rather it takes the place of the annulled election, because the period of nomination of candidates has lapsed.”
The judge said it was unfortunate that the trial judge fell into a grave error by predicating her judgment on the ground that Ekwenife defected from the PDP. “On the whole, having resolved the main issue in this appeal in favour of the appellant, this appeal is meritorious and it is allowed. The decision of the trial Federal High Court delivered on 29 February 29, 2016, is hereby set aside.
INEC, the second respondent, is ordered to conduct a fresh election in Anambra Senatorial District within 90 days with the participation of the appellants- Victor Umeh and APGA.
The court held that the first, third, fourth and fifth respondents should pay N50000 each to the appellants.