Appeal Court reserves judgment in Imo Rep’s suit
The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja yesterday reserved judgment in the suit filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its House of Representatives candidate, Chike Okafor.
The appeal is seeking to nullify the judgment of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) that produced Emeka Nwajuba of the Accord Party as a member of the House of Representatives for Ehimembano/Ihiteuboma/Obowo Federal Constituency of Imo State.
The three-man panel of the appellate court comprised Justice Adamu Jauro, Stephen Adah and Justice Wison Akomolafe. The panel took the decision after rejecting moves by counsel for Emeka Nwajuba to terminate the appeal. While insisting to hear the appeal on its merit, the court, however, reserved judgment at a later date, which will be communicated to the parties.
In the multiple appeals, the appellants are challenging the decision of Justice Bello Kawau of the Bwari Division of the FCT High Court, which had barred the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from accepting or listing the candidate of the APC in the rescheduled National Assembly election.
The said order, issued on February 12, gave rise to the eventual emergence of Nwajuba as a representative of the federal constituency in controversial circumstances. Okafor had through his counsel, Solomon Umoh (SAN), urged the appellate court to nullify the decision of the trial court on the grounds that it erred in law when it held that he was functus officio to set aside his order of April 29, and the entire proceedings in suit No. FCT/HC/CV/423/2018.
Umoh further told the court that he was never made a party to the suit and Mrs. Uzoma Chioma Mary Ann, who originated the suit, knew that he and not Emeka Nwajuba (third respondent) was the candidate of the APC for the federal constituency seat. He submitted that the order made by the judge on April 29 was against the appellant, who was not a party before the court.
According to him, the orders made by the court were made without jurisdiction as they were made well outside the180 days permitted by the fourth alteration to the 1999 Constitution for the trial court to conclude pre-election matters. On his part, the National Legal Adviser of the APC, Babatunde Ogala, urged the appellate court to allow the appeal and set aside the judgment of the lower court.
He also asked the court to hold that the lower court lacked the jurisdiction to determine pre-election matters outside its geographical area under the provisions of Section 257 of the 1999 Constitution.