Thursday 10 December 2015

Appeal Court sacks PDP Senator, George Sekibo and 2 Reps from Rivers; ...orders fresh election

George Sekibo
The Court of Appeal in Abuja on Thursday nullified the election of Senator George Sekibo of the Peoples Democratic Party representing Rivers East Senatorial District in the National Assembly and ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission to conduct a fresh election within 60 days.

The Justice Ali Gumel-led panel of the Court of Appeal set aside the judgment of the National/State Legislative Houses Election Petition Tribunal in Apo, Abuja, which had dismissed the petition by the All Progressives Congress’ candidate, Andrew Uchendi against Sekibo’s election.

The appeal court also delivered similar judgments setting aside the election of two other members of the Peoples Democratic Party representing their respective Rivers State’s constituencies in the House of Representatives.

The House of Representatives members sacked were Kingsley Chindah of Obio/Akpor Federal Constituency, and Blessing Nsiegbe of Port Harcourt 2 Federal Constituency.

Chindah’s election was challenged at the tribunal by the APC candidate, Anthony Okocha, while that of Nsugbe was challenged by Collins Owhondah.

INEC had declared Sekibo and the two other members of the House of Representatives winner of the March 28, 2015 National Assembly.

But dissatisfied with the results declared by INEC, the APC and its candidates had filed their various petitions asking the tribunal to cancel the elections and order a rerun on account of alleged irregularities.

The Justice Mu’azu Pindiga-led tribunal in its judgment delivered on October 12, dismissed the petitions as it held that the petitioners failed to prove their cases with substantial evidence.

The tribunal held that the petitioners brought “improper witnesses,” who only gave hearsay evidence.

The Justice Pindiga-led tribunal also noted that some of the allegations were criminal in nature and thus required proof beyond reasonable doubt.

But in the three judgments on Thursday, the Justice Gumel-led panel of the Appeal Court upheld the appeals against the tribunal’s verdicts filed on behalf of the appellants by their lawyer, B. E. I. Nwofor (SAN).

The Court of Appeal on Thursday held that it was for the PDP and its candidates as well as INEC who claimed that the election actually held to prove it with a credible evidence.

The appeal court however held that the respondents failed to prove the credibility of the election.

Sekibo had led two other senators from Rivers State to oppose the nomination of a former Governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi, (now Minister of Transport), during the screening of ministerial nominees.

The court was about to deliver three other judgments on appeals with respect to House of Representatives election as of the time filing this report about 8pm on Thursday.

They include the appeal filed by Ogbonna Nwuke against Jerome Amadi Eke (Etche/Omuonu Federal Constituency); Maureen Tamuno against Gogo Bright Tamuno (Okrika/Ogubolu); and Frank Chudi Wihioka against Boniface Emerengwa (Ikwere/Emuoha).

The appellants in the three appeals are of the APC, while the respondents are of the PDP.

The court will also on Friday (today) deliver judgment in the appeals marked, CA/A/EPT/627/2015, by Igochukwu Auma of the APC and the PDP’s Ken Chikere.

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