Anambra tribunal and elections
December 28, 2006 | posted by Nigerian Muse (Archives)


 

 

 

 

Tribunal upholds election of Uba for Anambra South Senatorial District

 

By Tony Edike & Anayo Okoli
Friday, February 27, 2004

 

ENUGU——THE Election Appeal Tribunal sitting in Enugu yesterday upheld the election of Senator Ugochukwu Uba of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for Anambra South Senatorial District.

 

 The Appeal Tribunal also set aside the ruling of the Enugu State Election Petition Tribunal, which nullified the election of Mr. Gordi Agbo of the PDP for Enugu North and South Federal Constituency. It, however, deferred judgement in the appeal filed Senator Ikechukwu Abana against the declaration of Chief Ben Obi, both of PDP as winner of the Anambra Central Senatorial seat by the Justice G.M. Nabaruma-led Anambra State Election Petition Tribunal. The matter was adjourned to March 4, 2003 for hearing of the appeal filed by All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) Senatorial Candidate for Anambra Central, Chief Flint Obiekwe before delivering judgement in the two appeals. In a majority judgement delivered by Chairman of the Appeal Tribunal, Justice Okwuchukwu Opene, the court held that Chief Uba and not Mr. Nicholas Ukachukwu who was declared winner by the lower tribunal, was the candidate duly sponsored by the PDP for the senatorial poll.

 

The Appeal Tribunal faulted the judgement of the lower tribunal that Ukachukwu was the candidate sponsored for the election without minding the testimonies of the State Chairman and Secretary of the party to the contrary. Said Justice Opene: “The question of who was the sponsored candidate of the PDP is entirely the domestic affair of the PDP. And it is the PDP and only the PDP and no one else that can say who is its candidate. “The (lower) tribunal was therefore in a very serious error when it embarked on the journey of going through the court cases and documents, and making a finding that the first respondent (Ukachukwu) was the sponsored candidate of the PDP.

 

“The State Secretary and Chairman of the party testified that the first respondent was not the candidate of the PDP, but the appellant (Uba). It is not in dispute that they are the officials of the party in the state. So it is they who can say the candidate of the party. And it is wrong for the tribunal to look for one reason or the other to discredit them and make its own finding as to who is the sponsored candidate of the party.”

 

Opene added that “the evidence of the Secretary and Chairman is very clear –– the appellant (Uba), not the first respondent (Ukachukwu), was the candidate of the PDP and there is no reason why their evidence should not be accepted.” On the issue of who was returned senator for Anambra South, the appeal tribunal ruled that there was nothing wrong in reflecting only the names of parties and their scores in the result sheets as directed by the INEC headquarters in Abuja.


The court therefore set aside the judgement of the lower tribunal and upheld the appeal by Senator Uba, saying he was the candidate duly sponsored by PDP and that he was duly returned as winner of the Anambra South Senatorial seat.  Justice David Adeniji, however, agreed with the judgement of the panel chairman, which was heralded by the shouts of “No, No, No” from supporters of Ukachukwu who were not satisfied by the verdict. But calm returned to the court hall following the intervention by mobile policemen.

 

But a member of the panel, Justice Kumai Bayang Akaahs, had in a minority judgement on the matter, upheld the judgement of the lower tribunal and dismissed the appeal. He held that the Returning Officer in the election was the only person authorized by law to announce the result, saying INEC had no right to cancel or withdraw the result sheet prepared by the Returning Officer, as was the case in the matter.


The Judge said INEC acted ultra-vires when it cancelled through a press release the form EC 8E issued by the Returning Officer to Ukachukwu.

 

The court had in a unanimous judgement on the appeal filed by Mr. Gordi Agbo against the nullification of his election by the Justice Ejembi  Eko lower tribunal, held that the Appellant (Agbo) was duly elected during the National Assembly election of April 12, 2003.

 

Justice Okechukwu Opene who delivered the judgement said the Appellant Respondent, Mr. Chijioke Agbo of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) failed to prove that election did not take place in 17 wards of the 26 wards in the constituency on the day of the election.

 

He also held that Nnaji failed to prove that the appellant (Agbo) did not obtain the lawful votes upon which INEC declared him the winner of the election, adding that the use of wrong form for an election cannot invalidate the outcome of the election as claimed by the respondent.

 

Opene therefore said that the cross-petition by Nnaji in which he claimed that he ought to have been declared winner after the nullification of the election by the lower tribunal, lacked merit and was dismissed, while the judgement of the lower tribunal was set aside.

 

However, predominium broke out yesterday inside the court hall of the court of appeal sitting in Enugu midway into the judgement in the appeal filed by Dr Ugochukwu Uba against the judgement of the first Anambra state election petition Tribunal which had last year reversed the declaration by INEC of Uba as the winner of the election of Anambra South senatorial zone held on April 12, 2003.

 

Chairman of the three-man appeal panel Justice Okwuchukwu Opene shortly before asking Justice Kumai Akaahs to read the minority judgement had noted that they had been under pressure through phone calls and correspondences on the matter. He had said that his colleague on his right hand (Akaahs) would read the lead judgement but it turned out to be minority judgement, though Akaahs himself corrected the impression given by the chairman.


After Akaahs judgement which dismissed Uba’s appeal in favour of Ukachukwu, the chairman was midway into his lead judgement when Ukachukwu’s supports who perceived miscarriage of justice shouted no, no, no, corruption, corruption, we don’t agree, that is not correct. Let’s go and disrupt them.” Some of them actually got up and moved towards the judges’ seats. At this junction the court room which was filled to the brim became engulped in confusion, forcing the third judge Justice David Adeniji to almost abandon his judgement which he read while running into the chambers of his dear life. He managed to read his judgement in support of the chairman’s position.

 

The commotion forced supporters of both parties as well as lawyers and journalists to scamper for their lives in the court room. However early intervention of policemen in court premises saved the situation.

 

 

 

Guardian

February 21, 2005

 

Court removes another Anambra senator, Anosike
From Alifa Daniel (
Abuja) and Lawrence Njoku (Enugu)

 

ANOTHER upset was recorded yesterday at the Appeal Court Tribunal sitting in Enugu, which nullified the election of Emmanuel Anosike as the senator representing the Anambra North Senatorial district.

 

The five-man tribunal, in a unanimous judgment, ruled in favour of Mrs. Joy Emodi, declaring her the authentic candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the area.

 

It also stated that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was in error when it announced Anosike as the winner of the April 12, 2003, National Assembly polls.

 

The nullification of Anosike's election brings to two the senators from Anambra State who have lost their seats.

Ikechukwu Abana, three weeks ago, lost his Anambra Central seat to Chief Ben Obi after a deluge of court cases allowed him to sit in the Senate for 19 months.

 

Yesterday's judgment put to rest the lingering legal battle of who among the two PDP candidates won the National Assembly poll of April 12, 2003.

 

But reacting almost immediately, Anosike, who was not in court, said he would voluntarily vacate his seat for Emodi despite describing the verdict as "unfair".

 

The Appeal Court had upheld the decision of the Anambra State Election Petition Tribunal that declared Emodi winner of the Anambra North Senatorial seat and ordered Anosike to vacate the seat on the ground that he was not the candidate fielded by the PDP for the National Assembly poll.

 

Though it did not award any cost against Anosike, the court, in the judgment read by Justice O.O. Adekeye, dismissed the three applications he (Anosike) filed and the one by INEC against the Awka Tribunal judgment for lack of merit.

 

At the end of the April 12, 2003, National Assembly elections, the INEC returning officer had declared Mrs. Emodi of the PDP the winner and issued her with a declaration of result (Form EC8E) number 0000191 dated April 16, 2003. A few days later, however, INEC, through its then Resident Electoral Commissioner, Alhaji Hassan Suleiman, in a press statement said that it had withdrawn and cancelled the Form EC8E. INEC then announced Anosike as the winner. INEC had earlier returned Anosike the winner of Anambra East/West Federal Constituency in the election held the same day.

 

Not satisfied with the action of INEC, Emodi headed to the Election Tribunal in Awka where she lodged protest. Consequently, on January 21, 2004, the Awka Tribunal in a unanimous decision upheld her petition and returned her the winner. The tribunal said that INEC had no power under the 2002 Electoral Act to cancel or alter any result declared by a returning officer. It maintained that only the Election Tribunal has that power.

 

Dissatisfied by the judgment, Anosike had filed an appeal at the Enugu Division of the Court of Appeal, challenging the judgment of the lower tribunal. The case went through series of delays before it was finally heard on November 30, 2004.

 

In yesterday's judgment that came exactly one year and a month after that of the lower court, the Appeal Court dismissed the appeals for lack of merit. The four applications viz, two on interlocutory judgments, one on the main judgment and one filed by INEC, were all dismissed as lacking merit.

 

The Court of Appeal affirmed the decisions of the lower tribunal saying that the matter was not an intra-party affair and that Emodi was right in not joining PDP, as she had nothing against the PDP.

 

The Court also agreed with the decision of the tribunal that Emodi had the locus standi to file the petition. It also upheld the decisions of the lower court on all the issues challenged by Anosike and INEC.

 

The court berated INEC for the shoddy job it did in Anambra State during the last elections and urged it to be courageous and honest in the conduct of elections.

 

"The conduct of the INEC officer is a clear violation of Section 59 of the Electoral Act, because it is only the tribunal that has the power to cancel any results declared, even if in error," the court said.

 

Reacting, to the judgment of the appellate court, however, Anosike said he was not perturbed because his ordeal was as a result of his support for the Anambra State Governor, Dr. Chris Ngige. He alleged that there were plans to remove all supporters of the governor from the National Assembly.

 

He recalled that Mrs. Jessie Balonwu, who represented Onitsha North/South Federal Constituency, was removed on the orders of the Appeal Court based on the "questionable verdict" of the court.

 

Emodi, however, said the judgment was a victory of justice over injustice. She commended the judiciary for proving again that democracy would survive in Nigeria. She called for an award of Judicial Transparency to the Justice J.O. Ogebe panel that heard her matter, saying the justices were under serious pressure not to do justice in a clear case.

 

Members of the panel were Justices J.O. Ogebe, Suleiman Galadimma, O.O. Adekeye, J.J. Umoreen and Ja'faru Muikaila.

 

Emodi's victory has raised the number of women in the Upper House to four. She is joining Daisy Danjuma, Gbemisola Saraki and Iyabode Anisulowo.

 

Anosike, who said at his Apo Legislators Quarters home thathe had accepted the judgment, continued to receive guests who had come to sympathise with him.

 

Among the early callers were Senate President, Adolphus Wabara, the PDP Woman Leader, Chief Josephine Anenih and Governor Ngige, who he backed to the hilt until his removal yesterday.

 

An unperturbed Anosike assured guests that he was no longer pursuing the legal option and promised to give peace a chance for the sake of his Anambra people.

 

In a statement yesterday, Anosike promised to remain in politics where he would "continue the struggle to better the lot of my people."

 

Tribunal nullifies Ofodile's election; declares Egwuatu  winner

By Anayo Okoli
Posted to the Web: Thursday, February 24, 2005

 

AWKA -  Anambra State Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Awka yesterday nullified the declaration by INEC of Mr Chudi Ofodile as the winner of the Awka North/South Federal Constitutuency in the National Assembly election held on April 12, 2003. In his stead, the tribunal declared Chief O.C.Egwuatu the winner of the election. Both Egwuatu and Ofodile are members of the PDP.

 

The tribunal also dismissed the petition filed by the ANPP candidate for the election, Dr. Okechukwu Onwudinjo aganist INEC’s first declaration of Egwuatu as the winner.

 

However, there was a dissenting judgement written by a member of the 5-man panel, Justice J.B Aladejana,which dismissed Egwuatu’s petition on the grounds that Egwuatu had no locus to file the petition in the first place as he was not the rightful PDP candidate for the election.
 

At the end of the National Assembly elections on April 12.2003, INEC declared Egwuatu winner of the Awka Federal Constittuency. And a few days later the same INEC through a press statement announced the withdrawal, invalidation and cancellation of the Form EC8E (1) issued to Egwuatu by the returning officer. INEC went further after a few days again to announce through another press statement the declaration of Ofodile as the winner of the election.

 

Not happy with this development, Egwuatu went to the tribunal where he filed a petition protesting INEC’s action. Meanwhile, Onwudinjo of the ANPP had already petitioned against INEC’s declaration of Egwuatu as the winner of the election.

 

In its judgement yesterday, the tribunal in a lead judgement endorsed by four of the 5-man panel and read by the Chairman of the tribunal, Justice G.M. Nabaruma resolved the several issues formulated in favour of Egwuatu and declared that his petition was successful.
 

Accordingly, the tribunal declared as follows:

 

* that Egwuatu was the winner of the Awka North/South Federal Constitutuency having polled the highest number of votes at the election and issued with Form EC8E(1).

*that INEC has no power under the Electoral Act to cancel, invalidate or withdraw Form EC8E(1) issued to Egwuatu by the returning officer.
*that Ofodile did not participate in the said election and therefore should not be returned the winner.

 

In his minority judgement Aladejana said that he did not agree with the decision of his colleagues and read his dissenting judgement. He also wrote a dissenting judgement on Onwudinjo’s petition as the petitions were consolidated.

 

With this judgement, the tribunal has only one National Assemly matter, that of Oyi/Ayamelum Federal Constituency to complete the avalanche of petitions that flooded the tribunal after the elections. Apart from the remaining National Assembly seat, the tribunal also has the Governorship petition filed by APGA candidate Mr. Peter Obi against the declaration of Ngige by INEC as winner of the Governorship contest in Anambra State. Already Ngige had called in over 350 witnesses and he is yet to close his case though it is said that he will end his case by the end of this month.

 

 

 

Vanguard

 

February 25, 2005

Appeal Court nullifies Okeke's election

 

AWKA — THE Court of Appeal sitting in Enugu yesterday nullified the election of Chief Raphael Okeke currently sitting in the House of Representatives for Anambra East/West Federal Constituency and declared Chief Alphonsus Igbeke as the winner of the election.

 

By Anayo Okoli
Posted to the Web: Friday, February 25, 2005

 

Okeke and Igbeke are members of the PDP. Ten thousand Naira cost was awarded against Okeke.

 

The Court therefore upheld the judgement of the tribunal sitting in Awka which had in November nullified the declaration by INEC through a press statement declaring Okeke as the winner of the election held on April 12, 2003, and in his stead declared Igbeke the winner of the election. The tribunal said that Okeke never participated in the National Assembly election, so he ought not to have been declared winner by INEC in the first place.

 

The Court of Appeal also upheld the judgements of the second Anambra State Election Petition Tribunal which upheld the elections of Mr. Keluo Molokwu for Awka South 1 Constituency and Mr. Bona Orakwue for Onitsha 1 Constituency. The court also dismissed the interlocutory appeal filed before it by Mr. Chudi Ofodile against the ruling of the Justice Nabaruma Awka tribunal on fair hearing saying that he (Ofodile) was given fair hearing."He deserved what he got", the court said.

 

Giving the judgement of the court, Justice J.O. Ogebe who read the unanimous decision of the court dismissed the appeal as lacking merit.

 

"There is no merit in this appeal and it is hereby dismissed", Ogebe said and awarded ten thousand Naira cost against the appellant (Okeke).

 

In his reaction to the judgement Igbeke expressed thanks to God and the judiciary. He however called for the amendment of the Electoral Act so that all election litigations would end latest six months after the elections. He assured his constituency of quality representation.

 

Also, Molokwu of Awka South 1 described his victory at the court as the will of God while Chiefs Okey Nwosu and Ben Ifeanyi Obi praised the effort of the judiciary to clear the political mess in Anambra State in the last elections, saying that the credibilty of the judiciary is once more being restored to serve as the real last hope for the common man.

 

 

 

Champion

March 11, 2005

Emordi disowns Ngige, Uba

 

•House admits Maduabum

 

ABIODUN ADELAJA and COSMAS EXPUNOBI, Abuja

 

NEWLY sworn-in Senator Joy Emordi (Anambra North) yesterday said she did not belong to either faction of Gov. Chris Ngige nor his estranged godfather, Chief Chris Uba, in the lingering political crisis in the state.

 

She stated this just as Chief Cyril Maduabum was formally admitted into the House of Representatives as a member representing Nnewi North/Nnewi South constituency.

 

Briefing newsmen yesterday, Senator Emordi, however, said that with the new hope and justice as demonstrated in the return of the duly-elected members of the National Assembly from the state, she would lead a fresh move to launder what she called the battered political image of the state.

 

Stressing that she was never a member of any of the major factions in the Anambra political saga, alleging that the two groups were indeed against her becoming a senator.

 

According to her, both the Ngige and Uba groups which were hitherto one, were largely instrumental to her delayed arrival to the Senate.

 

"I am a child of circumstance, but I have forgiven all those who contributed to my political travails," she said.

 

She said her victory at the Court of Appeal, has further rekindled her hope in the nation’s judiciary and the press, adding that what is more important is how to launder the battered political image of the state.

 

Meanwhile, Chief Maduabum was yesterday formally admitted into the House of Representatives.

 

Maduabum replaced Hon. Harry Oranezi who vacated the seat following Appeal Court ruling which upheld his (Maduabum’s) petition by the Anambra Elections Petitions Tribunal.

 

Hon. Maduabum, a former Anambra State commissioner under the Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju’s administration, called for amendment to the Electoral Act such that will allow for disposition of all elections petitions before inauguration of elected officers.

 

Commending the Appeal Court ruling, he said the pronouncement has upheld the wishes of the people of his constituency, adding that this would add fillip to resolution of the Anambra political debacle.

 

 

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