By Jimitota Onoyume
PORT HARCOURT- The Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Monday, nullified the election of Senator George Sekibo, representing Rivers East Senatorial District and ordered a re-run election to be conducted within 90 days.
Tribunal Chairman, Justice Veronica Umeh, in her ruling, blamed Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for blatantly ignoring a Federal High Court order, directing it to include the name of the candidate of Action Alliance, AA, Mr. Leslie Michaels-Atata and his party in the general polls conducted this year.
She said: “Ignoring the April 7 order of the Federal High Court by INEC was an abuse of court process. Nothing can be more devastating than to exclude a candidate, duly nominated by his political party, from an election.”
“The disobedience by INEC, of the order of the Federal High Court, Abuja, gave the petitioners (Michaels-Atata and AA) the locus standi. The wrong must be remedied. The conduct of INEC officials in this matter leaves little to be desired.”
“The petitioner has cause to complain of unlawful exclusion from the April 9 election. The order of the Federal High Court, Abuja, was served on INEC on April 8. There was no evidence of appeal. So, the order is yet to be vacated. INEC was under obligation to comply with the order.
“This is a case of barbaric conduct and glaring disrespect of court order. This must be condemned, if we are not to say goodbye to the Rule of Law. Ignoring orders of court with ignominy is condemnable.”