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Anambra Central: Court summons INEC, others

Dr. Obiora Okonkwo
A Federal High Court in Abuja, Thursday, summoned the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to appear before it next Wednesday to answer to issues raised by Dr. Obiora Okonkwo over its refusal to obey an order of court in respect to his declaration as Senator representing Anambra Central Senatorial district.

The Court also asked all political parties involved in the Anambra Central senatorial election issues to appear before it on same day.

They are to tell the court why another election in the district was necessary despite a valid judgment which ordered INEC to issue Dr. Okonkwo with a certificate of return.

Justice Babatunde Quadri made the order when ruling on an application brought before him by Okonkwo through his counsel, Sebastine Hon (SAN).

The Federal High Court in Abuja, had on December 13, 2017 declared Okonkwo the validly nominated candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at its primary election held in December 2014, and therefore, the right and proper candidate to enjoy PDP’s victory at the National Assembly election held in the district in 2015.

In making the declaration, the court ordered INEC to issue Okonkwo with a certificate of return. It also ordered the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, to swear Dr. Okonkwo in as Senator representing Anambra Central.

In the application with number FHC/ABJ/CS/1294/2017, Okonkwo argued that the planned January 13, 2018 rerun election, by INEC, in the district, would amount to an exercise in futility given that the electoral umpire was yet to obey the order of court which mandated it to issue him a certificate of return.

He told the court that the rerun election, if conducted, is capable of handing Anambra central two senators, the first of its kind in Nigeria, adding that such would compound the problems of the zone.

He also asked the court for an interlocutory injunction restraining INEC and its agents from going ahead with the rerun election; as well as sought a restricting order on other political parties from presenting candidates for the rerun.

Okonkwo argued that having been proclaimed Senator by an order of court in a matter he won after more than two years of litigation, INEC would be prejudicing his position by ignoring the order of court and conducting another election for the same office.

The matter which was filed in court on December 28, 2017 was heard for the first time on Thursday by Justice Quadri.

In his short ruling, the court ordered that INEC and all the respondents, including political parties, appear before it next Wednesday to show why the rerun election must continue.

In making the order, the court took judicial notice of the fact that the judgment that proclaimed Okonkwo as Senator for Anambra central has not been challenged, by any party, before any court in Nigeria.

INEC, which has already been served processes in the new matter, has consistently refused pleas by pro-democracy organizations including Intra-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), to obey the order of court on the matter.

Respondents in the suit, which the court has ordered to be served through their offices in Abuja include All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), United Progressives Party (UPP), All Progressives Congress (APC), Accord Party (AP), Advanced Congress of Democrats (ACD), African Democratic Congress (ADC), Citizens Popular Party (CPP), Independent Democrats (ID), Kowa Party (KP), Labour Party (LP), Mega Progressive Peoples Party (MPPP), National Conscience Party (NCP), Peoples For Democratic Change (PDC), Progressives People’s Alliance (PPA) alongside their candidates.

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