Friday, February 10, 2017 5:31 pm
The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed the appeal filed by Mrs. Uche Ekwunife challenging the refusal of the Court of Appeal to set aside its earlier judgement of December 7, 2015, which sacked her as the Senator representing Anambra Central Senatorial District and ordered a rerun poll, disqualifying her and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP from participating.
Ekwunife had approached the Apex Court asking it to upturn the decision of the Appellate Court to stand by the ruling that sent her packing from the Senate which was given consequent upon an appeal by the candidate of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Victor Umeh, against the tribunal verdict that upheld her victory from the March 28, 2015 Senate election.
But the Supreme Court delivering its judgement, refused to grant Ekwunife’s request describing her move as a flagrant abuse of court process.
The Apex Court maintained that it had no jurisdiction on the matter, pointing out the fact that all issues arising from National Assembly election petition tribunal ends in the Court of Appeal according to Section 246, Subsection 3 of the Nigeria’s Constitution. The lead judgement was read by Justice Amina Augie.
All other Justices in the panel agreed with the judgement. They wondered why anybody would engage in such a futile exercise when the constitution is very clear on the matter.
The Justices advised whoever that wants the Supreme Court to assume jurisdiction on matters relating to legislative elections to go to the National Assembly and seek for an amendment of the constitution.
Speaking to journalists after the Supreme Court ruling, Umeh said: “From day one it was clear that this appeal was brought in total disobedience to the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria. And the constitution you know is the grundnorm. That is the supreme document. If there is a clear provision in the constitution, there is no way you can circumvent it in pursuit of your personal interest or ambition.
“When we came here on 14th of November (2016), I addressed you after the hearing of the appeal. I said the only way this appeal will succeed is if the constitution is amended. And if it is amended today, it will not take a retroactive effect. So, it was obvious to us that what they were trying to do is not less than what the Supreme Court described to be flagrant disobedience to the Constitution of Nigeria.”
Continuing, he said, “Today is the third time I am coming to this court and wining. I have never resorted to violence throughout my political life. I was in this Supreme Court on 25th of March 2011 when I defeated Chekwas Okorie.
“On 15th of January last year I was here, I won. I defeated Maxi Okwu. Today, the 10th of February 2017, again, I won. I don’t know how many people who have travelled to the Supreme Court three times and won all. I always make sure I adhere to the law, the provisions of the constitution and judicial precedents in pursuing my defence.”
Asked what should be the way forward for the Anambra Central rerun election with the judgement, Umeh remarked: “The next thing to do now is for INEC to fix the date for the fresh election ordered by the Court of Appeal. This judgement has resolved all the issues.
“Firstly, the judgement read this morning has confirmed that PDP’s candidate was disqualified by the Court of Appeal before it ordered for the fresh election. That being the case, under our law, somebody who was disqualified in an election can no longer take part in the fresh election.
“Supreme Court has decided it since 13th of February 2009 – this Supreme Court. So, this affirmation that PDP’s candidate was disqualified according to the final judgement of the Court of Appeal makes PDP not to have a candidate in the election.
“So, INEC would not wait for anybody to conduct this election. They should go on now to conduct this election. My constituency had been unrepresented for over 14 months now. And it is affecting all of us. The useful time that the person who will win the fresh election would have used to serve the people is being wasted.
“INEC was a party in all appeals, both at the Court of Appeal and at this Supreme Court. So, they’ve taken judicial notice of this judgement. The order made by the High Court that PDP should be allowed to bring another candidate, because the candidate disqualified had moved to another party does hold water anymore.
“You cannot give what you don’t have. Assuming the lady (Ekwunife) had remained in PDP, she wouldn’t have been part of the election. So, if she has moved to another party, she has moved with nothing.”