Court Of Appeal Commences Hearing Of Governorship Election Case

KayCee
By KayCee July 17, 2014 11:03

Court Of Appeal Commences Hearing Of Governorship Election Case

The legal battle over the conduct of the last governorship election held in Anambra State last November has shifted to the Court of Appeal sitting in Enugu today.

This morning, a five man special panel headed by Justice Mohammed Lawal Garba, a Justice of Court of Appeal  from Port Harcourt Division will hear three appeals filed by the trio of Senator Chris Ngige of All Progressives Congress (APC), Tony Nwoye of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Dr. Chike Obidigbo of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) all challenging the judgments delivered by the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal headed by Justice Ishaq Bello on the 4th of June 2014.

While Ngige and Nwoye in their  respective Notices of Appeal seek the upturning of the tribunal judgment and the nullification of the entire governorship election on the basis of  acts of gross irregularities and the non-qualification of the APGA candidate, Willie Obiano, Obidigbo wants the judgment set aside and a declaration made in his favour that he and not Obiano was the authentic APGA candidate in the  said election.

Leading the legal team for Senator Ngige and APC in the appeal is a former NBA President and ACN governorship candidate in the Ondo Governorship election of 2012, Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN) while a former resident electoral commissioner (REC) for INEC and now private legal practitioner, Mr. Ahmed Raji (SAN) will be leading the team for INEC. An Onitsha based legal practitioner, Mr Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN) will be leading the team for Obiano with Mr. Patrick Ikwueto, SAN appearing for APGA. Saharareporters gathered that all briefs of argument have been filed and exchanged by the parties. Based on the provisions of the constitution, judgment in the three appeals will be delivered on or before the 3rd of August 2014.

A lawyer conversant with the matter told Saharareporters that three main issues will be thrashed out in the appeal. The first is the eligibility of Mr Willie Obiano to contest the election in the first place. It was alleged by all the petitioners that prior to the election Obiano while being a registered voter in Lagos State got himself registered twice as a voter in Anambra State. Under the Electoral Act, multiple registrations are a criminal offence, and the presentation of one of such fraudulently acquired voter’s card  by Obiano to INEC in his nomination form automatically disqualified him from contesting the election.

Despite the overwhelming evidence tendered by the petitioners at the tribunal, the Ishaq Bello panel said to have been compromised by former Governor Peter Obi ruled that   the allegation was not proved ‘beyond all reasonable doubt’ and that the tribunal lacked jurisdiction to hear criminal complaints in an election petition. The court of appeal will hear argument on both sides on whether the tribunal was right or wrong. The second critical issue that will come for argument before the court is whether the voter register used by INEC in the conduct of the election was invalid.  INEC had admitted that three days to the election it discovered several errors in the voters registers and had to ‘sanitize’ them in order to remove ‘impurities.

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KayCee
By KayCee July 17, 2014 11:03