DELTA ASSEMBLY: Court Orders Return Of Sacked Legislature


Seven months after an appellate court sitting in Abuja upheld a decision of a  Federal High Court sacking the erstwhile Speaker of the Delta state House of  Assembly, Mr. Martin Okonta, who was representing the Ika South constituency at the  House of Assembly, the Supreme Court on Monday set aside that judgment which sacked  the legislator from office.

The judgment followed an appeal filled at the apex court by Mr. Okonta where he  claimed that the Federal High Court entered a judgment against him when he was not a  party in the suit instituted by his challenger, Mr. Kinsley Monye Phillips. He told  the court that he was denied his constitutional right to be heard by the trial court  which ought to have directed that he, whose election was being contested, ought to  have been made a party in the suit.

In the unanimous judgment read by Justice Adekeye, the 5 man panel of the apex court  held that a court can only be competent to entertain a suit when all necessary  parties are properly before it. They held that the suit as instituted by Mr.  Phillips challenging his substitution by the Peoples Democratic Party before the  2007 general election ought no to have been determined without the presence of Mr.  Okonta who participated in the election and was returned winner by the Independent  National Election Commission.

While setting aside the decision which ousted the former Speaker from the Delta  state House of Assembly, the court awarded a cost of Fifty Thousand Naira and Thirty  Thousand Naira respectively against Mr. Kingsley Monye Phillips and the electoral  body in favour of Mr. Martin Okonta.

It is however doubtful if the former Speaker while resume as Speaker of the House of  Assembly when he returns to the House as the House now has a serving Speaker.

—Nnamdi Felix / Abuja

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