24th February, 2011
The Court of Appeal sitting in Enugu this afternoon dismissed an appeal filed by Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State South East Nigeria that the Governorship Election Tribunal in the state headed by Justice Pius Damulak should complete its work despite a vote of no confidence by other parties in the matter.
Justice Amina Auge leading a five-man panel of judges ruled that the â€˜â€™Court of Appeal will not compel the lower tribunal to continue adjudication of the matter it declined further adjudication and the matter is hereby dismissedâ€™â€™.
She upheld that the lower tribunal rightly declined further adjudication of the matter following overwhelming protests of bias on the part of the members in a case, Peter Obi vs INEC and Others, returnig Peter Obi as duly elected during the February 6,2010 gubernatorial election in the state.
Other members of the panel supported the lead judgment.
The petitioners-Action Congress of Nigeria-ACN, Hope Democratic Party- HDP and National Socialist Party-NSP had dragged Governor Obi and INEC to the tribunal praying among others to set aside the election; conduct another election using a new voters register; alleging non consolidation of applications and non compliance with the Electoral Act 2006.
The panel of judges condemned the use of fowl language against members of the Bench by one of the counsel in the case and warned legal practitioners that election cases are fast killing the profession.
The judges unanimously want the President of the Court of Appeal to re-constitute another tribunal, which will start afresh to try the election petitions emanating from the 6 February 2010 governorship election.
Responding, counsel to Governor Obi, Onyechi Ikpeazu,SAN, in an interview told newsmen that he appealed against the decision of the lower tribunal in order not to allow those who created pit falls at the tribunal from feasting on their creation.
He however stated that the tribunal was right in its decision.
But Emeka Ngige, counsel to Action Congress of Nigeria, said there was no cause for alarm as two issues they raised on spread and use of new voters’ register to conduct another election are yet to be decided.
In a related development, the Appeal Court panelists struck out another appeal-Hope Democratic Party versus Peter Obi for lack of merit, saying the judgment of the tribunal remains largely untainted and so subsists.
Mike Okoye counsel to HDP accepted the judgment saying â€˜â€™itâ€™s Godâ€™s willâ€™â€™.
The matter was adjourned till 6 April for hearing.
By Jude Orji\Enugu