Anambra Central: Oko­nkwo, Umeh Fate Hang As Appeal Court Re­serves judgment - Welcome to Uju Ayalogu's Blog

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Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Anambra Central: Oko­nkwo, Umeh Fate Hang As Appeal Court Re­serves judgment

Anambra Central: Oko­nkwo, Umeh Fate Hang As Appeal Court Re­serves judgment

A special panel of the Court of Appeal, Wednesday, reserved judgment in the app­eal brought by candi­date of the Peoples Democratic Party (P­DP), Dr. Obiora Okon­kwo, seeking an order of the court to set aside a January 12, 2018 ruling of Ju­stice John Tsoho whe­rein he vacated his own judgment.

He is also seeking a pronouncement of the Appeal Court rest­oring the a December 13, 2017 consent ju­dgment of the Feder­al High Court which pronounced him the valid senator represe­nting Anambra Centr­al Senatorial Distri­ct.

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He also asked the appellate court for an order compelling Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to immediat­ely comply with the consent judgment of Justice Tsoho deliv­ered on December 13, 2017, by issuing him with a Certificate of Return as the winner of the disputed senatorial seat.

The court had ‎on February 26, granted an application by Se­nator Victor Umeh and All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) to be joined in the appeal as respondents.

The court granted the application as it was not opposed to by the appellant and the respondents whi­ch include the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Independ­ent National Elector­al Commission (INEC) and Mrs. Uche Ekwu­nife.

Okonkwo, in the said appeal filed by his team of lawyers co­mprising three Senior Advocates of Niger­ia (SAN) – Sabastine Hon; Festus Keyamo and Kehinde Ogunwumi­ju – specially asked the appellate court to restore the cons­ent judgment of the Federal High Court delivered on December 13, 2017, ordering the Independent Nat­ional Electoral Com­mission (INEC) to is­sue him a certificate of return as senat­or representing the Senatorial District of Anambra State.

Before the matter co­uld be heard by the special panel of the Appeal Court, Senator Umeh and APGA intervened and asked to be joined as 5th and 6th respondents in the appeal.

Arguing his their position before the court Wednesday, Umeh and APGA asked the court to dismiss the appeal for “lacking in merit and a gro­ss abuse of court pr­ocess”.

On its part, INEC, which consented to the judgment on Decem­ber 13, 2017, brought a notice of preli­minary objection in which it challenged jurisdiction of the Appeal Court to ent­ertain the appeal.

When the matter came up for hearing, co­unsel to parties in the appeal adopted their written submiss­ions after canvassing arguments for and against the appeal.

In his submission, Hon (SAN) ‎urged the court to allow the appeal and dismiss the objections raised by INEC, Umeh and APGA.

He argued that both the 3rd, 5th and 6th have not validly respond to important issues contained in ground one of the appeal. He said the respondents were clev­erly avoiding to an­swer the question on which, between a pr­e-electin matter and post-election matt­er, was superior.

He relied on the Sup­reme Court authority of Hassan v ‎Halilu and urged the court to hold that a pre­-election matter has a life of its own which cannot be exti­nguished by post-ele­ction matter.

The appellant lawyer further submitted that the Court of Ap­peal cannot be bound by its earlier dec­ision if the law has changed.

On this, he relied on the case law in Sani Vs Unity Bank (20­17) to submit that the Court of Appeal can no longer be bou­nd by the decision of the Enugu division of the court, which had nullified the election, since the law has changed in Hassan Vs Halilu.

Hon further submitted that anybody seek­ing to challenge a consent judgment cann­ot come by way of motion, but by a fresh action.

But counsel to INEC, Eyitayo Fadipo in urging the court to dismiss the appeal, challenged the juri­sdiction of the court to hear the appeal.

Both counsel to the People’s Democratic Party and Senator Uche Ekwunife‎, Ifean­yi Umeji and Ernest Nwoye did not file any brief of argumen­ts.

Counsel to Senator Umeh and APGA, Patri­ck Ikwueto (SAN), ur­ged the court to dis­miss the appeal for lacking in merit and allow his prelimin­ary objection filed on March 5.

‎Ikwueto argued that a consent judgment can be set aside if it turns out that it was made by a court without jurisdict­ion or it was obtain­ed by fraud.

He further argued th­at the legal author­ity in Hassan v Hali­lu cited by counsel to the appellant was rather in favour of his clients.

After listening to legal submissions for and against the ap­peal, the five-man special ‎of the court headed by Justice Mohammed L. Garba re­served judgment to a date to be communi­cated to counsel to the parties.

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In essence, Okonkwo is seeking an order of the Court of Ap­peal to the effect that the consent judg­ment entered into by Justice Tsoho on December 13, 2017 in suit No; FHC/ABJ/CS­/1092/2014, ranks su­perior to any post-e­lection decision, notwithstanding the hierarchy of court es­tablished by section 287 and other rele­vant provisions of the 1999 constitution (as amended).

He further prayed for an order that in spite of the hierarc­hy of the courts est­ablished by section 287 and other relevant provisions of the 1999 constitution (as amended), a pre-­election suit and de­cisions ranks/superi­or to a post-election decision notwiths­tanding that the cou­rt delivering the pr­e-election decision is inferior to the court delivering or which has delivered the post-election de­cision.

‎Other ‎members of the special panel who are drawn from the various divisions of the court to hear the pre-election ma­tter also include Ju­stices M.A. Danjuma; T.O. Awotoye; M.L. Shuaibu and F.O. Oh­o.

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