Nigerian Court Annuls Senator's Election

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The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja on Tuesday nullified the nomination of the Chairman, Senate Committee on Gas, Senator Nkech Nworgu, as the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party on the grounds that she was not qualified to have stood for the April elections having come from Osisioma Ngwa Local Government Area which is not part of Abia Central Senatorial District.

In a unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, the court held that pursuant to the delineation of  Senatorial Districts in Abia State of Nigeria by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, that Ossisioma-Ngwa Local Government Area of Abia State of Nigeria, did not fall within the Abia Central District.

The court further held that Senator Nworgu is ineligible to aspire to be  the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to contest the 2011 general elections to represent the Abia Central Senatorial district. The court therefore declared her nomination  as unconstitutional, null and void and of no legal effect whatsoever.

The court held that the nomination of Nworgu by the PDP to contest for the post of a Senator representing the Abia Central Senatorial District in the 2011 general elections which was conducted by INEC was based on false information/declarations on oath submitted by the senator.

However, the court declined to grant one of the reliefs sought by Hon. Emeka Atuma who instituted the appeal which was for him to be declared the winner of the PDP’s primaries for the Abia Central Senatorial District held on Sunday, January 8, 2011 at the Umuahia Township Stadium, Umuahia, Abia State of Nigeria.

The court stated that there was nothing before it to show that Atuma came second in the PDP primaries. Atuma, in his suit had asked the court to disqualify Nworgu for allegedly lying on oath that she was from the Senatorial District when in actual fact she was not from the area.

The senator, in her preliminary objection to the case, had stated that during the 1999, 2003 and 2007 elections, Osisioma Ngwa Local Government Area was part and parcel of the Abia Central Senatorial District and that residents of the said LGA voted in and were voted for in the elections into the senate for the said district and asked the court to dismiss the suit.

Emeka Atuma had told the court that senator Nworgu is not an indigene nor resident within the Abia Central Senatorial District as to qualify her to contest the 2011 general elections to the senate to represent senatorial district.

He also asked the court  to declare that the senator was ineligible to aspire to be sponsored by the PDP to contest the 2011 general elections to represent Abia Central Senatorial District. He pleaded with the court to make an order declaring as unconstitutional null and void and of no legal effect whatsoever the nomination of Nworgu by the PDP to run for and contest for the post of a Senator representing Abia Central Senatorial District in the 2011 elections to be conducted by INEC based on false information/declarations on oath submitted to the party.

Atuma averred that having represented Ikwuano / Umuahia Federal Constituency  from 2003 to 2007, that his quest to represent his people at the upper legislative chamber made him to seek a clarification from INEC via a letter dated July 9th 2010 on the official composition of local government areas in Abia state that constitute the Abia Central Senatorial District.

He noted that INEC, in a letter dated  August 30th 2010 and signed by the Secretary of the Commission, stated in clear terms that Abia Central Senatorial district is made of Ikwuano, Isiala Ngwa North LGA, Isiala Ngwa South LGA, Umuahia North LGA, and Umuahia South LGA totaling five local government areas.

He said that pursuant to the powers vested on INEC by the 1999  Constitution  as amended and the Electoral Act 2010 as amended, the Commission set up the National Advisory Committee on Delimitation of Constituencies in 2008 and that the National Advisory Committee on Delimitation upon the completion of its nation-wide assignment submitted its report to the Commission and that the said report listed the composition of Abia Central Senatorial District to include, Ikwuano LGA,, Isiala Ngwa North LGA, Isiala Ngwa South LGA, Umuahia North LGA, Umuahia South LGA that in the said report the Committee considered a proposal to include Osisioma Ngwa LGA into Abia Central Senatorial District.

Continuing, the senatorial aspirant observed that the National Assembly had not approved, ratified or given effect to the said proposal and that the said proposal had not come into effect and the composition of the Local Governments that constitute Abia Central remained as stated.

He asked the court to determine whether by the combined provisions of Section of sections 71 and 72 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended Osisioma Local Government Area of Abia State can fall into the Abia South Senatorial District and Abia Central Senatorial District.

In the unanimous decision, the three member panel of the appellate court agreed with the appellant that senator Nworgu was not eligible to represent the Abia Central senatorial district and declared her nomination by the PDP as null and void.

By Nnamdi Felix/Abuja