By Andrew Essien, Abuja
Following the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to get the Certified True Copy of the Federal High Court judgement declaring Dr. Obiora Okonkwo as the Senator for Anambra Central, he has forwarded the judgement to the election body.
He equally demanded that INEC immediately issues the Certificate of Return to him.
Although Justice John Tsoho had in a judgment last week, ordered INEC to issue a certificate of return to Dr. Okonkwo without delay, the election body had insisted after its meeting last week that it can only do such after taking delivery of the certified copy of the judgement.
The Commission had while reacting to the resolutions of the Federal High Court on the lingering Anambra Central senatorial seat, said that it has applied for the Certified True Copy of the judgement.
“It will be recalled that following the judgment of the Court of Appeal, the Commission announced that the outstanding election to fill the vacant seat for the Anambra Central Senatorial District would take place on January 13, 2018.
“However, the attention of the Commission has been drawn to the judgement of the Federal High Abuja on the issue, delivered on December 13, 2017. The Commission has applied for the Certified True Copy of the judgement to enable us take a decision,” the Commission noted.
However, in the fresh letter Okonkwo’s lawyer sent to the Election Management Body, furnishing it with the certified copy and requesting for issuance of the certificate of return, Okonkwo said: “We do hope you will allow reason to prevail and then duly comply.
Titled “Re-request to issue certificate of return to Dr Okonkwo Obiora in compliance with judgement of the Federal High Court in suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/1092/2014”, and signed by Chief Sebastine Hon SAN, the letter read: “We are still counsel to Dr Obiora Okonkwo and our first letter on the above, dated December 14, 2017 refers.
“As undertaken in that said first letter, we hereto attach a certified copy of the full judgement to enable you comply/cause to comply therewith forthwith. We do hope you will allow reason to prevail and then duly comply. Kindly accept assurances of our highest esteem,” the letter read.
The court had in its ruling also ordered the President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to swear-in Dr. Okonkwo to occupy the vacant seat of Anambra Central in the Senate.
In his first letter to INEC dated December 14, 2017, he said: “we respectfully, but firmly, request sir, that you issue/cause to be issued, our client the said Certificate of Return as ordered by the Federal High court, forthwith, to enable our client present himself to the leadership of the senate for inauguration”.
The letter received at the office of the INEC chairman, further read: “we are counsel to Dr. Obiora Okonkwo, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate that won the party’s nomination to contest the March 2015 election for Anambra Central Senatorial District but was unlawfully and wrongfully denied the ticket, which ticket was handed to Chief (Mrs.) Uche Ekwunife. He is hereinafter referred to as “our client”; and we hereby wrote on his instructions.
“Aggrieved by that clearly unlawful decision of the PDP, our client took out an originating summons in December 2014, challenging the actions of the PDP. Joined as defendants in the suit were PDP, then chairman of PDP, Alhaji Adamu Muazu, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Chief (Mrs.) Uche Ekwunife.
“In the course of the trial, however, counsel to the PDP and the PDP chairman; counsel to INEC and Counsel to Chief (Mrs.) Uche Ekwunife, all submitted to judgment, as per the claims in the amended originating summons and the motion for judgment filed and served on them by the plaintiff (our client). It is instructive to note that the Motion on Notice sought for consequential orders, including an order that INEC should forthwith issue our client with a certificate of return and that he should be immediately sworn in as Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“In the course of the hearing on Wednesday, 13th December, 2017, all defence counsel again conceded and submitted to judgment; hence the Hon. Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court, Abuja entered judgment for our client as per claims in the amended originating summons as prayed in relief 3 of the motion on notice”.
Dr. Okonkwo also attached all documents referred to in the letter made available to INEC.
He reminded INEC that “your commission, sir, has already scheduled a fresh election into this senatorial district for 18/12018” adding that “we however, submit as follows: that the decision of the Court of appeal ordering fresh election, delivered on 7/12/2015 did not nullify the victory of the sponsoring political party –the PDP – but merely held that Hon. Uche Ekwunife, the so-called PDP candidate for the election, was not duly nominated by the PDP.
“The Court of Appeal in that decision also held that the APGA candidate, Chief (Sir) Victor Umeh, could also not be declared winner of the said election, since he did not poll the highest number of votes.
“Therefore, that the Court of Appeal did not nullify the March 2015 election into Anambra Central Senatorial District but merely held that Hon. Uche Ekwunife could not prove her due nomination by the PDP. Now that the Federal High Court in suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/1092/2014 has held that our client was duly nominated candidate of the PDP in that election; and in view of the settle case law that it is a political party as opposed to a candidate that wins an election, our client should, as ordered by Justice Tsoho J., be issued a certificate of return forthwith, to enable the senate leadership inaugurate him as Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”