Alex Enumah in Abuja

The Court of Appeal in Abuja thursday refused an application seeking to restrain the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from conducting the rerun election into the Anambra Central senatorial district.

The court said the earlier order made on November 20, 2017, directing the commission to conduct election for the senatorial seat within 90 days cannot be reversed so as not to make mockery of the judiciary.

Justice Abubakar Datti Yahaya refused to grant the request for the postponement of the election already scheduled for tomorrow brought before it by a senatorial aspirant of the Peoples Democratic party (PDP), Chief Annie Okonkwo.

Okonkwo had through his counsel, Chief Solomon Umoh (SAN), approached the appellate court for leave to appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal which had on November 20 last year ordered INEC to conduct fresh election into the vacant Anambra Central senatorial district within 90 days.
In the application, Okonkwo claimed that he was interested in challenging the judgment of November 20, last year as a senatorial aspirant.

However, the application could not be entertained because most the parties joined in the application were not served with the court processes by Okonkwo.
Apparently cut in the web, Okonkwo then applied for an adjournment on the application to enable him serve court processes on the respondents.

Mindful of the fact that the senatorial election had been fixed by INEC for tomorrow, Okonkwo applied to the three-man panel of the Appeal Court for an order compelling the electoral body not to conduct the election until his application has been duly determined.
He urged the court to compel INEC counsel, Tanimu Inuwa, to make an undertaken in the open court that INEC will not go ahead with the election having been aware of his pending application and so as not to render the application useless.

At this stage, INEC counsel objected to the request for an order to put the election on hold on the grounds that huge public fund has been expended in preparing for the poll by INEC.

The counsel vehemently insisted that INEC would not make any undertaken to postpone the poll because of the subsisting appeal court judgment of November 20 which ordered INEC to conduct the poll within 90 days.

In his brief ruling, Justice Yahaya said the court cannot compel INEC to make any undertaken to postpone the election because of an application that was not ripe for hearing.

Justice Yahaya further said the Appeal Court, having made an order on November 20 last year, cannot approbate and reprobate at the same time.

“For the avoidance of doubt, we have not restrained INEC from conducting the election as ordered by this court on November 20, 2017,” the court said.