- It’s judicial miscarriage, says Annie Okonkwo
Iyobosa Uwugiaren in Abuja
Dr. Obiora Okonkwo, who was last Wednesday declared the senator for Anambra Central by a Federal High Court in Abuja, has written to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) demanding immediate issuance of a certificate of return to him as ordered by the court.
Justice John Tsoho had in a judgment last Wednesday ordered INEC to issue a certificate of return to Okonkwo without delay.
He also ordered the President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to swear-in Okonkwo to occupy the vacant seat of Anambra Central in the Senate.
The letter to INEC dated December 14, 2017, and titled: ‘Request to issue certificate of return to Dr. Obiora Okonkwo in compliance with judgment of the Federal High court in suit No.
FHC/ABJ/CS/1092/2014 delivered on December 13, 2017’, signed by his lawyer, Chief Sebastine Hon (SAN), read in part: “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 was received at the office of the INEC chairman at about 4.30p.m. thursday
According to the letter, “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 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, INEC and Ekwunife.
“In the course of the trial however, counsel to the PDP and the PDP chairman; counsel to INEC and counsel to 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 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.
“In the course of the hearing on December 13, 2017, all defence counsel again conceded and submitted to judgment; hence the Justice Tsoho of the Federal High Court, Abuja entered judgment for our client as per claims in the amended originating summons as prayed in relief three of the motion on notice.”
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 13/1/2018” 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 (PDP) but merely held that 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 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 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, be issued a certificate of return forthwith, to enable the senate leadership inaugurate him as Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Okonkwo also reminded INEC that his suit predated any other matter affecting Anambra Central senatorial district as it was a pre-election suit.
Meanwhile, Senator Annie Okonkwo who represented Anambra Central and who said he was the original candidate of the PDP in the 2015 general election until he was substituted, has reacted to the Federal High Court pronouncement, saying it was a miscarriage of justice.
In a statement from his media office, the senator stated that he was completely shocked by this latest curious judicial harvest to a litigant from the shadows, who plied fables as facts and gained concurrence from the respected Justice Tsoho.
“It is sometimes fitfully amazing how our hallowed judicial temples can be deliberately misled, perhaps inadvertently, to contrive somersaults of superior court verdicts on a settled matter.”
“Let it be recalled and I say this with responsibility from the records, that on this vexed matter of who was and still is the validly nominated PDP candidate for Anambra senatorial zone for the 2015 general election, Senator Annie Okonkwo was the one by law and legitimate party processes.
“I graciously emerged the duly nominated candidate of the party from the INEC recognised and approved primary. The party hierarchy validated my candidature by submission to INEC, who accepted and published my name to canvass and win the votes for the PDP. The PDP won that election but crowned the wrong laureate, and the sequence of comedies ensued.
“Let me make it simpler and clearer that you cannot build something on nothing. There were two parallel PDP primaries for that election. Mine was recognised, accepted and adopted by party and law. The other was not, but connived to ambush my victory until pronounced dead for illegitimacy by a far superior court of records. In that instance, every foundation from that platform that has fallen by conclusive judicial sword, cannot stand however remotely and cleverly manufactured.
“It has remained my firm belief and prayers that the bizarre circumstances and perfidy that has denied Anambra Central zone, one of the most sophisticated and cultured constituency in this country, a voice in our highest legislative chamber for reasons of inordinate conspiracies to deny them their expressed preference will one day soon come to be.”