Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Court of Appeal on Monday adjourned till Thursday, March 12, 2020 to hear the appeal filed by Senator Ifeanyi Ubah against the judgment of a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), which ordered his removal from office as the senator representing Anambra South Senatorial District at the National Assembly.
A three-man panel of justices of the appellate court led by Justice Stephen Adah, adjourned the matter to enable parties respond to a fresh application filed by Ubah.
The hearing would be coming barely five days to the expiration of the suit.
According to the provisions of the law, political matters have a life span of 60 days at the Court of Appeal, following which the case automatically becomes statute barred and its outcome a mere academic exercise.
When the matter was called, the counsel to the appellant, Dr Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), informed the court that he filed a motion before the court Monday morning and have also served all parties.
However, while lawyers to the second and third respondents, J. B. Marshall and M. Danbaba, respectively admitted service, they said they would not be responding to the motion.
But the counsel to the first and fourth respondents, N. A. Mohammed and Prof. H. A. Olaniyan, asked for time to respond to the motion.
The respondents are Anani Chuka, Young Progressive Party (YPP), Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Dr Obinna Uzoh.
Consequently, Justice Adah gave the two respondents two days to file their responses and one day to the appellant to reply on point of law, if any and adjourned the matter till March 12 for hearing of both the motion and appeal.
Justice Bello Kawu had on January 17, 2020 affirmed his order which nullified Ubah’s election on the premise that he allegedly used a forged National Examination Council (NECO) certificate to contest the senatorial election that held in Anambra South on February 23, 2019.
The court had on April 11, 2019, after sacking Ubah ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw the certificate of return it issued to Ubah and issue a fresh one to Dr. Obinna Uzoh of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who came second in the election.
Miffed by the decision, Ubah had on the same day approached the Court of Appeal to set aside the judgment which he insisted occasioned grave miscarriage of justice against him.
In the appeal predicated on four grounds and filed by Dr Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), the senator insisted that he was denied fair hearing by the trial court.
Ubah claimed that he was neither served with the originating processes nor hearing notice with respect to the suit that led to his sack from the Senate.
Besides, he argued that the Abuja court lacked the territorial jurisdiction to hear and determine a pre-election matter that arose from an election held in Anambra State.
However, in his further affidavit in support of his motion on notice filed on March 6, 2020, Ubah is however asking the Court of Appeal to set aside the judgment of Justice Kawu on the grounds that the entire proceedings and the judgment emanating there from are manifestly incompetent being a nullity.
According to him, the proceedings amount to a nullity on the grounds that: “As at the time the judgment in suit no: FCT/HC/CV/3044/2018 was purportedly delivered, the suit had not been filed as filing fees had not been paid.
“That as at the date of filing of this action the appellant/applicant had been duly elected as the senator representing Anambra South Senatorial District and his election has been affirmed on September 9, 2019, by the Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Awka, Anambra State.
“That having regard to the date of payment of filing fees, suit no: FCT/HC/CV/3044/2018 was a post election matter and the lower court had no jurisdiction to entertain same.
“That by the above, the suit, the entire proceedings and the judgment emanating there from are manifestly incompetent being a nullity.”
Meanwhile, the appellate court has reserved ruling in the suit filed by a PDP senatorial candidate, Chief Chris Uba.
Chris Uba is challenging the judgment of Justice Kawu, which had dismissed his application seeking to be joined as an interested party in the substantive suit filed by an electorate in the state, Mr. Anani Chuka.