By Vivian Okejeme
The Court of Ap, challenging the February 29, 2017 judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja, which ordered the inclusion of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Sen Uche Ekwenife in the scheduled Anambra Central senatorial re-run poll.
The Anambra Central senatorial district has been vacant following the nullification of Ekwenife’s election.
The Court of Appeal Division in Enugu 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.”
Delivering judgement in the appea,l yesterday, the three-member panel of Appeal Court, headed by Justice Tinuade Akomolafe Wilson, dismissed PDP’s preliminary objections on the issue of the appellants’ locus standi and the court’s jurisdiction to entertain the suit.
Justice Akomolafe held that the appellant’s 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 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, 2016, is hereby set aside. Independent National Electoral Commission (2nd respondent) is ordered to conduct a fresh election in Anambra senatorial district within 90 days from today with the participation of the appellants (Chief Victor Umeh and APGA).
“The 1st, 3rd, 4th and 5th respondents shall pay the sum of N50, 000 each to the appellants,” the Appeal Court held.
It would be recalled that Ekwunife was removed from the Senate by the Court of Appeal in Enugu on the grounds that she was wrongly nominated by the PDP, and as such, ought not to have been fielded in the 2015 election.
Following the judgment, the PDP recognised Dr. Obiora Okonkwo as its properly nominated candidate for the Anambra Central senatorial election.
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