Court reverses judgment declaring Okonkwo as PDP senator

Alicia Farmer
January 13, 2018

The Federal High Court Abuja, on Friday, set aside its own judgment delivered on December 13, 2017 which asked the Senate President to swear-in Mr Obiora Okonkwo as Senator representing Anambra Central Senatorial District.

Earlier, Okonkwo's effort to postpone the rerun at the Appeal Court failed as a ruling on the matter by a three-man panel of justices presided by Justice Abubakar Datti Yahaya, held that the earlier order made on November 20, 2017 directing INEC to conduct election for the senatorial seat within 90 days can not be reversed so as not to make mockery of the judiciary.

INEC had in a motion filed on December 21 asked the court to set aside the judgment which it said was in contrast with three subsisting decisions of the Court of Appeal.

He added, "By the doctrine of judicial precedence, the decision of the Court of Appeal is ordinarily binding on this court in respect of this matter". It is not one on merit, therefore the court has jurisdiction to revisit it.

Justice Tsoho held that Okonkwo had concealed the fact that he and his party, the PDP, were parties to the suit at the Appeal Court.

Ruling on Friday, Justice Tsoho reversed its earlier judgment and held that Okonkwo misled the court.

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.

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He also ordered the Senate President, Bukola Saraki to "forthwith" swear in Okonkwo, and whereby the Certificate of Return had earlier been issued anyone, such should be withdrawn and issued to Okonkwo.

The court held that the time for primary elections had elapsed and the PDP could no longer field a candidate in the election.

It will be recalled that the court of appeal judgment had excluded the PDP from participating in the re-run election on the grounds that the party did not conduct primary elections.

According to Justice Tsoho, that Okonkwo was not a party to the case was immaterial so far his party, PDP, on whose platform he contested the said election filed appeal.

Obiora informed of his disagree with the said court ruling in its entirety in a statement he personally signed and sent to Sundiata Post.

"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".

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