15th May, 2012
The Supreme Court in Abuja on Monday, 14 May, dismissed the appeal instituted by Mr Chukwuka Onyema against the 29 March, 2012 victory of Victor Afam Ogene, member, House of Representatives, at the Appeal court, Enugu division in a matter arising from the April 2011 National Assembly election in Anambra State.
The Court of Appeal presided over by Justices Ayobode Olujimi Lokulo – Sodipe, Adamu Jauro and Samuel Chukwudumebi Oseji, had on 29 March, 2012 upheld the appeal brought before it by Ogene, who had challenged the decision against him by the lower tribunal as the actual winner of the House of Representatives election held on 9 April, 2011 and a re-run held on 6 May, 2011 for Ogbaru Federal Constituency.
However, against the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended), that the Appeal court shall be the final arbiter in any matter arising from the National and State House of Assembly Election Petitions, Mr Onyema curiously filed an appeal at the Supreme Court challenging the decision of the Court of Appeal.
Both legal teams of the respondents, Ogene and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), had in their written briefs filed a ‘‘preliminary objection’’ which questioned the jurisdiction of the apex court to entertain the appeal, as they pointed out that the Supreme Court is only empowered by the constitution to hear election matters as it concerns those of the President, Vice President, Governors or Deputy Governors.
While in agreement with the legal team of the respondents, a panel of the apex court Justices which included Justices Mahmoud Mohammed, Francis Fedode Tabai, Bode Rhodes-Vivour, Olufunlola Adekeye and John Afolabi Fabiyi, berated the appellant’s lawyer, Chuma Oguejiofor, for mischievously bringing a matter that he knew the Supreme Court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain, before them.
The appeal was subsequently dismissed as the apex court affirmed the finality of the Appeal Court decision which upheld the election of Ogene, deputy chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Media and Public Affairs.