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Anambra’s litany of cases

March 16, 2006:
Appeal Court sacks Ngige
The Court of Appeal sitting in Enugu quashed Dr. Chris Ngige’s election as governor on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and declared Mr. Peter Obi of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) winner.

The Appeal Court in pronouncing its judgment upheld the ruling of the Anambra State Election Petition Tribunal which had earlier confirmed Obi, and not Ngige, as winner of the election.Ngige had lodged an appeal against the ruling by an election tribunal in August 2005 that Obi had won a free and fair vote while the result was rigged in favour of PDP.

June 14, 2007:
Supreme Court on Obi’s tenure: The presiding justice of the Supreme Court panel, Justice Aloysius Katsina Alu, after listening to arguments on the constitutional issue, declared that Governor Peter Obi four-year tenure should not end on May 29, 2007, but on March 17, 2010.

President Yar'Adua with Justice Idris Kutigi
President Yar'Adua with Justice Idris Kutigi

Alu said: “It is not in dispute that the plaintiff\appellant (Peter Obi) was sworn into office on March 17, 2006. If it is so, his term of office will expire on March 17, 2010. In his suit, the plaintiff applicant has sought an order that his four-year term of office cannot expire; that it extends beyond May 29, 2007. “In spite of its awareness that the case was still going on in court, INEC went on to conduct election into the office of the governor of Anambra State. This is against the principle of lis pendis.

“This court and indeed any court will not allow its processes to be treated with disdain. “In order to ensure that the plaintiff’s appeal is not rendered nugatory, I therefore make the following declarations:
That the office of the governor of Anambra State is not vacant on May 29, 2007.

That Dr Uba should immediately vacate the office of the governor of Anambra State with immediate effect to enable the plaintiff appellant complete his term of office. “I make no order as to costs.” All other six justices of the apex court on the panel concurred.

PDP8

The case of Obi at the High Court was that he was elected Anambra State governor in April 2003 and was supposed to take his oath of office on May 29, 2003 but that INEC declared, in error, Dr Chris Nwabueze Ngige as the winner of the election. He said he did not smell the seat of power until after Ngige had spent three years of his tenure.

In the originating summons he filed before the high court, he was contending that since the Supreme Court had held that Ngige was wrongly sworn into office, his tenure could not be backdated to read May 29, 2003 when he did not take any oath of office on that day.

He was consequently seeking a judicial pronouncement that his four-year tenure ought to be calculated from the date he took his oath of office. The Federal High Court, Enugu declined jurisdiction and struck out the case. Obi appealed to the Court of Appeal, urging it to set aside the verdict of the lower court.

The Court of Appeal also declined jurisdiction, saying the issue raised in the case had to do with election matter and that it was only an election petition tribunal that could hear the case. Obi then went before the Supreme Court. He specifically urged the apex court to invoke the provision of section 22 of the Supreme Court Act to sit on the case as a court of first instance because of its urgency.

January 30, 2008:
Obi wins at Supreme Court: Governor Obi, on this day, at the Supreme Court survived another move to sack him as the apex court dismissed the suit initiated by Dr. Andy Uba, the PDP and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Uba had filed an application praying the court to set aside its June 14, 2007 judgement which declared Obi as the one eligible to occupy the governor’s seat.

Delivering judgment on the preliminary objections raised by counsel to Governor Obi and other respondent/applicants, the court threw out the application on the grounds that it was not competent as the issues raised therein amounted to a wild goose chase.

Justice Katsina Alu, who read the ruling, said Andy Uba never raised any irregularity at the lower court, thinking that he has a joker by raising the issue of jurisdiction at any time, adding that the court had given its final judgment on Anambra State. He said that the matter of jurisdiction fell within a narrow compass and that the argument that the application should be heard on merit was a wild goose chase.

September 29, 2009
Andy Uba seeks “governor-in-waiting” status: In an apparent move to exploit the lacuna created by the Supreme Court when it ordered in 2007 that Governor Obi be allowed to complete his tenure following the swearing in of Andy Uba into office as Anambra state Governor in May 29, 2007, Uba, on this day, headed to Appeal Court to ask it to declare him Anambra State governor-in-waiting based on the election of April 14, 2007.

In a judgment delivered on February 18, 2008, the Court of Appeal had validated Uba’s election in the April 14, 2007 poll. The appellate court held that Uba’s election remained valid. It also held that the decision of the election tribunal which nullified his election was wrong and consequently revoked and discharged the decision.

This position, according to the former presidential aide, meant that his election in 2007 remained valid. On the basis of that assumption, Uba asked the Court of Appeal for consequential orders in view of his election which it had validated in 2008 since the tenure of Obi would be coming to an end on March 17, 2010. He wanted the court to restrain INEC from conducting fresh election for the governorship position in Anambra State and to be declared “governor-in-waiting”.

June 11, 2009:
S/Court throws out Uba’s suit: A full panel of the Supreme Court led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Idris Kutigi, aborted the legal move by Andy Uba to re-open the suit filed by Governor Obi which led to his (Uba) sack from office.

He wanted a reversal of the pronouncement of the apex court with respect to his mandate in order to sack Obi from office and step into his shoes.

The apex court, in it’s judgment, held that there was no vacancy in Anambra Government House into which INEC conducted election which he allegedly won. Kutigi said he had expected senior lawyers like Uba’s counsel to advise him on the path of honour to toe instead of allowing themselves to be used to destroy the judiciary which they all have the responsibility to protect.

According to him, the apex court was also surprised at the way Uba conducted himself for the singular purpose of getting himself into the Anambra Government House, moving from one court to another and filing the same appeal which had already being decided on its merit over and over again before same court.


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