*As court transfers stay of execution motion to Court of Appeal
By Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Wednesday refused to hear the application brought by Senator Peter Nwaoboshi for an order restraining the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from issuing certificate of return to Prince Ned Nwoko in respect of Delta North senatorial district.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed in a short ruling refused to hear Nwaoboshi’s motion on the grounds that the court lacked the jurisdiction to do so, based on the fact that the Court of Appeal had already taken seize of the matter.
Justice Mohammed had on April 3 sacked Nwaoboshi as Senator-elect representing Delta North Senatorial District.
In sacking the senator, the court held that Nwaoboshi was not the winner of the Peoples Democratic Party [PDP] primary held on October 2, 2018, conducted to nominate its senatorial candidate for Delta North district in the 2019 general election.
Consequently Justice Mohammed ordered INEC to withdraw the certificate of return issued Nwaoboshi as winner of the Delta North Senatorial District election held on February 23 and issue Nwoko with a new certificate of return.
The court in addition ordered INEC to immediately publish the name of Prince Ned Nwoko as the rightful candidate of the PDP, having established the fact before the court that Nwoko scored a majority of the lawful votes in the primary.
He also ordered Senator Nwaoboshi to stop parading himself as the candidate of the PDP for the Delta North senatorial district.
Not satisfied with the decision of Justice Mohammed, the senator approached the Court of Appeal in Abuja to upturn the judgment.
Nwaoboshi also in an application urged Justice Mohammed to stay the execution of its earlier order sacking him as senator-elect representing Delta North Senatorial District.
However, Justice Mohammed in a short ruling held that since defendants in the suit had appealed his judgment in the substantive suit, he would be transferring the motion together with the entire case file to the appellate court.
“This court has no further jurisdiction on the matter”, Justice Mohammed said, “In view of this, the first defendant’s (Nwaoboshi) motion filed before this court (for stay of execution) is hereby transmitted to the Court of Appeal.”
Nwoko through his counsel Ahmed Raji (SAN), had dragged INEC, PDP and Nwaoboshi before the court praying for an order to stop INEC from publishing or further publishing the name of Nwaoboshi as the candidate for Delta North senatorial district. Nwoko also asked for another order compelling the PDP to forward his name to INEC as the authentic candidate of the party for the senatorial district in the 2019 general election.
Nwoko who predicated his suit on seven grounds, which were supported by 20-paragraph affidavit evidence and five exhibits, averred that he was screened and cleared for the Delta North senatorial district by the PDP Electoral Committee.
He declared among other things, that at the end of the primary election, he scored 453 votes to defeat his closest rival, Nwaoboshi who scored 405 while Paul Osaji came third with 216 votes.
Nwoko, however, maintained that to his surprise, the PDP jettisoned the result of the primary election and forwarded Nwaoboshi’s name as its candidate for the senatorial district. He stated that all efforts to redress the injustice through the party’s appeal panel were frustrated and thus unsuccessful.