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Court declares Okonkwo Senator for Anambra Central -Orders swearing-in

Dr. Obiora Okonkwo
A Federal High Court in Abuja, Wednesday, declared Dr. Obiora Okonkwo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as senator for the vacant Anambra Central Senatorial zone in Anambra state.

The declaration followed a judgment by Justice John Tsoho over a motion on notice brought before him by Dr. Okonkwo.

Dr. Okonkwo had gone before the court seeking an order that he is the “validly nominated candidate of the PDP at the 7th December 2014 PDP primary election to nominate its candidate for Anambra Central Senatorial District at Ekwueme Square Awka, Anambra state, whose political party contested and won the national Assembly election that was held on the 28th of March, 2015”.

He also asked for an “order directing that INEC, the third defendant/respondent cancels the certificate of return (if any is subsisting) issued to the fourth defendant/respondent (Chief Mrs. Uche Ekwunife).

Further, he asked for an “order that INEC issues a certificate of return to Dr. Obiora Okonkwo forthwith as the Senator Representing Anambra Central Senatorial district of Anambra State”.

Other reliefs sought include an “order that the Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria swears in the plaintiff (Dr. Obiora Okonkwo) forthwith as the Senator representing Anambra Central Senatorial district of Anambra state in the senate of the National Assembly of the Federal republic of Nigeria as there is no occupant of the said seat at the senate at the moment”, and;

“An order that arrears of emoluments, salaries and other perquisites of office be paid to the plaintiff/Applicant (Dr. Okonkwo) from 7/12/2015 up to the date he is sworn in as Senator representing Anambra Central Senatorial district”.

In entering judgment in the matter, Justice Tsoho upheld argument by plaintiff counsel, Sebastian Hon SAN that INEC, which had sustained its appearance in court, had not entered any defence or objection to the suit.

He also agreed with Hon SAN that in line with the Supreme Court decision in favour of Rotimi Amaechi, an electoral victory belongs to the party which has powers to fill same with the candidate of its choice.

He also upheld the position of PDP and Mrs. Ekwunife who had submitted themselves to judgment.

In the course of proceeding, INEC told the court that it had no objection to the suit. It also said it will abide by whatever decision the court takes being “a responsible organisation”.

PDP also told the court that it had no objection to Dr. Okonkwo as its candidate.

Earlier, Mrs. Ekwunife, who was the fourth defendant in the matter, withdrew her involvement in the suit, and by way of an affidavit, submitted herself to the judgment of court.

Justice Tsoho, who observed that the matter was a pre-election matter, subsequently entered judgment and granted all the reliefs sought by Dr. Okonkwo.

Addressing journalists afterwards, Mr. Hon SAN, said implication of the judgment was that Dr. Okonkwo is now senator-elect for Anambra central Senatorial zone.

He also said that consequentially, the January 13, 2018 date fixed by INEC for a rerun election in the senatorial district, becomes immaterial.

Addressing journalists also, Dr. Okonkwo re-affirmed his faith in the judiciary and said he has always believed that justice can only be delayed.

The suit first came to court in December 2014 soon after Dr. Okonkwo, who won the PDP primary election with 240 delegate votes, was denied opportunity to contest in the election.

He had gone to court arguing that as the validly nominated candidate of the party that he ought to be on the ballot for the PDP.

He also argued that though a tribunal had quashed Ekwunife’s nomination as candidate of the PDP, the party’s victory at the March 2015 polls remain valid and as such, if declared winner of the primary, he should enjoy the victory.

The court upheld his prayers.

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