Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Abuja division of the Court of Appeal has restored the Certificate of Return issued to Chike Okafor of the All Progressives Congress (APC) by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as a member representing Ehimembano/Ihiteuboma/Obowo Federal constituency of Imo State at the House of Representatives.
In a unanimous judgement yesterday, the appellant court set aside the April 29 order made by Justice Bello Kawu of the Kubwa Division of the FCT High Court, directing INEC to issue certificate to Emeka Nwajuba as a member representing the federal constituency.
The three-man panel of the appellate court comprising Justice Adamu Jauro, Stephen Adah and Justice Wilson Akomolafe, equally set aside the May 10, 2019 ruling of the trial court that it was functus officio to set aside his order of April 29, 2019 and the entire proceedings in suit No. FCT/HC/CV/423/2018.
Justice Jauro, who delivered the lead judgement accordingly allowed the appeals filed by Okafor and the APC for being meritorious.
Okafor and his political party had, in separate appeals, challenged the decision of the trial court, which had barred INEC from accepting or listing the candidate of the APC in the rescheduled National Assembly election.
The Court of Appeal had, in an earlier ruling, dismissed the notice of preliminary objection raised against the appeals by Nwajiuba, insisting to hear the appeals on merit.
Reading the lead judgement yesterday, Justice Jauro had, after analylising the evidence and issues canvassed for and against the appeals in separate judgments, held that the appeals are meritorious and should be allowed.
In the first judgement, which was on Okafor’s appeal, Justice Jauro held “in the final analysis, I find that the lower court has jurisdiction to have revisited its ruling, which bordered on the fundamental rights of the appellant. Consequently, the appeal is meritorious and is hereby allowed only on reliefs 1 and 2.