Supreme Court sacks senators, House member

by Isi Esene

There was a legal avalanche yesterday with the courts’ sacking of three members of the House of Assembly. The members who got their marching others are Senators John Emeka and Yusuf Musa Nagogo, with the third being the former spokesman of the House of Representatives, Eseme Eyibo.

While dismissing the appeal filed by Mr. John Emeka, the Supreme Court agreed with Yusuf Alli (SAN) that Margery Chuba-Okadigbo, widow of the late former Senate President, Chuba Okdigbo, polled the highest votes at the lawful primaries conducted by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and therefore the authentic candidate of the PDP in the April 16, 2011 election.

The apex court then declared Chuba-Okadigbo as the rightful senator representing Anambra North.

In a separate case involving Mr. Solomon Ewuga and Yusuf Musa Nagogo, the Court upheld the judgment of the Court of Appeal which declared Ewuga of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) as the senator representing Nasarawa North and dismissed the appeal filed by Nagogo who claimed to have won the party’s primaries.

According to the Court, Ewuga, a former Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), was validly elected to represent the Senatorial District on the platform of the CPC.

However, in a dramatic third ruling, the apex court, in a decision delivered by Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour, declared Mr. Bassey Dan Abia as the PDP flagbearer for the House of Representatives election in Eket, Akwa Ibom State.

The court upheld the argument presented by Dan Abia’s counsel, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), that only a political party can determine or conduct primaries to choose its candidate in an election. It dismissed Eyiboh’s appeal for “lack of merit”.

The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal had on January 27, ordered Eyibo to vacate the seat on the premise that the primary election that brought him to the National Assembly was not conducted in strict adherence to the relevant electoral laws.

According to The Nation, apparently dissatisfied with the verdict of the appellate court, Eyiboh proceeded to the apex court where he again lost yesterday.

In the Appeal Court judgment, the presiding judge, Justice Ejembi Eko, had held that the appellant, Dan Abia, was “not only relying on his victory at the Uyo township stadium conducted on January 29th 2011, he insisted on the earlier primaries conducted on January 7th and 8th 2011 and posited further that he attended the Uyo exercise of January 28th and 29th 2011 under protest. Unfortunately the trail court did not bother to consider the appellant’s evidence proving this assertion.”

He went further to rule that “a judgment delivered which did not, or refused to consider the defense is a clear negation of the principle of fair hearing.”

He described the earlier ruling, which exonerated Eyiboh, as perverse and totally a nullity.

With the politics of substitution and imposition often practiced by Nigerian political parties, we might see more decisions being overturned by the courts. We don’t know who’s next; but what we do know is that the National Assembly will get new members in the coming days.

Slow sometimes, the wheel of justice in Nigeria is surely grinding.


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