Anambra South: Court Restrains INEC from Issuing Uzor Certificate of Return

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By Alex Enumah in Abuja

Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on Thursday restrained the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from issuing a Certificate of Return to Mr Obinna Uzor as the senator representing Anambra South Senatorial District at the National Assembly.

Justice Taiwo gave the order in a ruling on a motion challenging the judgment of an Abuja High Court which sacked Ifeanyi Ubah as the senator representing Anambra South Senatorial District.

Others affected by the restraining order of the court are the Clerk of the National Assembly, Clerk of the Senate and Uzor.

The respondents were specifically restrained from taking any further steps pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit filed by Senator Ubah.

The court in the ruling held that INEC and the other defendants cannot proceed to comply with the order of the FCT High Court in defiance to the subsisting judgments of the National Assembly Elections Tribunal and the Court of Appeal which had affirmed Ubah as the senator representing Anambra South Senatorial District at the National Assembly.

According to the judge, the Court of Appeal is the final court on issues pertaining to the declaration of Ubah as the duly elected senator for Anambra South Senatorial District.

The judge in answering the questions on whether having regards to Section 246 (3), 285 (2) of the Constitution and the doctrine of hierarchy of courts, the defendants can proceed to comply with the judgment of the FCT High Court in Suit No CV/3044/18, in defiance of the subsisting judgment of the Elections Petitions Tribunal No. EP/AN/SEN/11/2019, which has been affirmed by the Court of Appeal in appeal No. CA/E/EAPP/20/2019, Uba Christian C. Vs INEC and 10 others, held that the Court of Appeal is the final court on issues pertaining to the declaration of the plaintiff (Ubah) as the duly elected senator for Anambra South Senatorial District.

Justice Taiwo further held that INEC and the other defendants are bound to comply with the latter judgment of the Election Petitions Tribunal and Court of Appeal delivered on September 9, 2019 and October 29, 2019, respectively affirming the election of Ubah and not the earlier judgment of the FCT High Court delivered on April 11, 2019.

He gave the following orders: “A declaration that the 1st defendant (INEC) has no vires to ignore the post-election judgment of the election tribunal in petition No. EPT/AN/SEN/20/2019 – Uba Christian C. VS INEC and 10 others in preference for the post-election judgment of the FCT High Court in suit No. CV/3044/18.

“A declaration that the defendants are bound by the decision of the Election Petitions Tribunal in petition No. EPT/AN/SEN/20/2019 as affirmed by the Court of Appeal in appeal No. CA/E/EAPP/20/2019, Uba Christian C. Vs INEC and 10 others and therefore obliged to ignore the judgment of the FCT High Court in suit No. CV/3044/18.

“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants from giving effect to the judgment in suit No. CV/3044/18 given the subsistence of the judgment of the Election Petition Tribunal in petition No. EPT/AN/SEN/11/2019 as affirmed by the Court of Appeal in appeal No.CA/E/EAPP/20/2019, Uba Christian C. VS. INEC and 10 others.

“An order directing the defendants to obey and give effect to the judgment of the Court of Appeal delivered in appeal No. CA/E/EAPP/20/2019, Uba Christian C. VS. INEC and 10 others and affirming the plaintiff as the winner of the election conducted for the Anambra South Senatorial district conducted on February 23rd 2019.”

In an affidavit deposed to by Ubah in support of the originating summons, he averred that Uzor, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was not an aspirant in the primary of his party, the Young Peoples Party (YPP) for Anambra South Senatorial District, and was surprisingly joined as a party in the suit before the FCT High Court on April 1st 2019.

He averred that the judgment of the FCT High Court is in conflict with the decision of the election tribunal as upheld by the Court of Appeal which had affirmed him as the duly elected senator representing Anambra South Senatorial District.