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Suit on Rivers’ PDP flagbearer in 2007 polls resumes

By Innocent Anaba
The Supreme Court, will today commence hearing in the suit on who the flagbearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State in the April 14, 2007 governorship election was, whether it was Mr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and Sir Celestine Omehia.

Omehia had recently filed an application before the apex  court,  seeking a review of its judgment delivered on October 25, 2007, when he was sacked from office and Amaechi ordered sworn-in as the governor. Omehia is praying the court to set aside its judgment.

The court, it will be recalled, had, in its judgment delivered on October 25, 2007, recognised Amaechi as the PDP candidate in the poll. The court had by that judgment, also declared Amaechi as the duly elected governor of the state, thereby displacing Omehia, who actually contested the governorship election in the state.

Omehia, in the fresh  application, is contending that the reasons given by the court on January 18, 2008 for its decision was a nullity because it lacked the jurisdiction to do so.

According to him,  the said judgment of the court amounted to a special repeal of Sections 177, 178 (iii) and 179 of the 1999 constitution. He is further contending that a judgment which deemed a candidate who did not contest an election as having won or lost same, was unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect.

According to him, the reasoning of the court in its judgment in the case, where it stated that “it is only a party that canvasses for votes and only a party that wins an election,” was an act of judicial lawmaking, which is a fundamental encroachment on the powers assigned to the legislature under the principle of separation of powers.

He further contends that the provisions of Sections 177, 178 (iii) and 179 of the 1999 constitution and Sections 33(i), 34(i) and (iii), 35, 36, 37(i) 38, 39, 51, 54 (iv), 64 (i) and (ii) 65, 70, 71, 76, and 103 (i) of the Electoral Act 2006,  clearly expressed the intention of the legislature, that it is the candidate who contests, wins or loses an election. This court by its findings referred to, actually made new laws.

The former governor argued that the decision of the court,  where it declared Amaechi as the winner of the election, which he did not contest, was not based on any fact, available evidence, law or precedent but in its decree that “it is only a party that canvasses for votes that wins an election.”

Omehia consequently wants the court to make an order,  restoring the parties to their status quo as of the date preceding the date of the judgment (October 24, 2007).

It will be recalled that though the gubernatorial election in the state had been conducted on April 14, 2007 and Omehia of PDP declared winner of the poll and sworn in as Governor, controversies has continued to trail the issue of who the authentic PDP candidate in the election in the state was.

Despite claims by Omehia and PDP that he (Omehia) was the PDP candidate and Governor in the state by virtue of the PDP winning the April 14 governorship election, Amaechi had argued the contrary,  claiming that if PDP had a Governor in the state,  he should be the one, having overwhelmingly won the party primaries of December 2006.


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