Vacation of Pre-election Judgement: Obiora Okonkwo Rejects Court Ruling, Proceeds to Appeal

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Sundiata Post recalls that the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Friday (today), vacated a consent judgement which conceded that Obiora Okonkwo was the right candidate in the last Anambra Central Senatorial District election and as such is entitled to the Certificate of Return.

It will be recalled that the judge had on December 13, 2017, ordered that Okonkwo be sworn-in as a senator representing Anambra central senatorial district and also ordered INEC to issue him a certificate of return.

Justice Tsoho said though the consent judgment he delivered was misconceived because the plaintiff did not disclose some facts to the court.

The statement read, "My attention has been drawn to a list by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which contains my name as a candidate in the rerun Anambra Central Senatorial Election being conducted Saturday, January 13, 2018".

The Judge further stated that he was liable to set aside the earlier judgment because it was not based on merit.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, has said that he was not contesting the re-run election for Anambra Central Senatorial District, describing the proposed election as a charade.

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".

Justice Tsoho explained that the consent judgment is not on merit and can not stop his court from assuming jurisdiction.

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According to the judge, John Tsoho, the judgement which was strongly relied upon by Okonkwo's lawyer, can not be regarded as a final judgment on the matter.

The judge had ordered that if a certificate of return had previously been issued to any person; it should be withdrawn and given to Okonkwo.

He disagreed with Okonkwo in his claim that he was not a party to the suits in the court of appeal.

However, INEc had approached the same court, urging it to vary its judgment on the strength than an Appeal Court both in Enugu and Abuja, had ordered a rerun election within 90 days of judgment.

On the argument that the court can not seat on an appeal against its judgment, the court said hearing the appeal has not rendered it functus officio.

The judgment was delivered in a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1092/14, which Okonkwo filed against the PDP; its former National Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Mu'azu; INEC; and Mrs. Uche Ekwunife.

The appellate court in its judgment of November 20, 2017 however excluded the PDP and its candidate from participating in the rerun.

The judge adjourned the matter indefinitely pending the outcome of the Supreme Court decision on the matter.

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