Coast Clears for Today’s Anambra Central Senatorial Rerun

Dr. Obiora Okonkwo
Dr. Obiora Okonkwo

The coast was Friday cleared for the conduct of the Anambra Central Senatorial election following, the setting aside of a Federal High Court judgment that directed the inauguration of Dr. Obiora Okonkwo as the lawful candidate for the vacant Anambra Central Senatorial seat at the National Assembly.

Justice John Tsoho yesterday vacated his earlier judgment in a ruling he delivered on an application seeking the setting aside of his December 13, 2017 consent judgment on the grounds that the court was misled by the plaintiff in securing the consent judgment.

INEC had in an application asked the court to vary its judgment of December 13, to enable it conduct the rerun election slated for today, in line with the judgment of the Court of Appeal judgment, which directed INEC to conduct a fresh election to fill the vacant position within 90 days.

The appellate court in its judgment of November 20, 2017 however excluded the PDP and its candidate from participating in the rerun.

Tsoho in the ruling held that Okonkwo suppressed fact when he said he was not a party in the Appeal Court judgment, whereas his party, the PDP was a party to all the judgment, adding that the PDP had already filed a notice of appeal against the judgment of the Court of Appeal.

The judge further stated that he was liable to set aside the earlier judgment because it was not based on merit.

Tsoho added that the court took judicial notice of three earlier judgments from  the Court of Appeal which ordered INEC to conduct a re-run election for the Senatorial District within 90 days.

The judge further held that in the doctrine of precedent, Court of Appeal’s decision took precedent over and above that of any lower court. He held further that his court being a lower court, was bound by the decision of the Court of Appeal in the instant case.

“The consent judgment is hereby vacated and set aside”, Tsoho held.

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

Meanwhile, Dr. Obiora Okonkwo has expressed disagreement with the ruling of Justice John Tsoho that vacated an earlier judgment which declared him as the lawful candidate for the Anambra Central Senatorial seat.

Okonkwo in a press statement made available to newsmen in Abuja, argued that his suit was a pre-election matter and as such took preeminence over the post-election matter nullified by the Court of Appeal.

While disclosing that he has instructed his lawyers to immediately appeal against the judgment, he urged his supporters to remain calm and be law abiding, assuring that the rerun election scheduled for today would end up in nullity as he is fully prepared to challenge its outcome.

The statement read, “Today, the 12th of January, 2018, the Federal High Court in Abuja set aside a consent judgment in my favour in which parties to the suit, including the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), conceded that I was the right candidate in that election and as such is entitled to the Certificate of Return.

“The court today, based its decision on the Court of Appeal decision, in a post-election matter, wherein Senator Uche Ekwunife was disqualified on grounds that she was not the duly nominated candidate of PDP, and ordered for fresh elections.

“It is significant to note that I went to court in this present case even before the March 2015 National Assembly election.

“Therefore, if my rights have been determined timeously, the case that went to the Court of Appeal would not have arisen in the first place. Hence, the determination of my right as a candidate takes pre-eminence over the post-election petition that was nullified.

“Unfortunately, the Federal High Court ruled otherwise today.

“I disagree with the said ruling today wholly and entirely. Consequently, I have instructed my lawyers to proceed on appeal immediately.

“I assure all my supporters, and admirers, that I will not rest on my oars until justice is done. I urge you all to remain calm and law-abiding.

“It is in the light of the above that I state categorically that any election held in Anambra Central Senatorial District tomorrow, being January 13, 2018, would amount to a nullity as we shall be challenging whatever predetermined outcome is announced”.