BY TONY EDIKE
ENUGU—THE Court of Appeal sitting in Enugu yesterday nullified the election of Senator Andy Uba representing Anambra South senatorial zone and ordered that fresh election be conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, within 90 days.
In a unanimous judgment delivered by a five-man panel led by Justice Helen Moronkeji Ogunwumiju, the court also ordered INEC to immediately withdraw the Certificate of Return issued to the sacked senator.
The court, however, could not give reasons for the judgment as it promised to do so at a later date.
….How Appeal court decided Uba’s fate
ENUGU—The five-man panel of the Court of Appeal that nullified Senator Andy Uba’s election yesterday heard and decided the matter involving Anambra South Senatorial seat in about 24 hours.
The panel was constituted specifically to hear pending cases from controversial National Assembly elections in Anambra State.
The members of the panel, according to Vanguard checks, were drawn from five different divisions of the appellate court with a mandate to handle the pending cases.
The panel was said to have arrived Enugu on Wednesday and sat throughout the day during which they heard about nine motions brought by various counsel in the matter.
The matter was concluded late Wednesday evening with only the justices, lawyers and court clerks present.
No journalist in Enugu was informed of the panel’s sitting on Wednesday, as well as, the delivery of the judgment yesterday, which sources said, lasted less than 15 minutes. The sitting of the panel was shrouded in secrecy.
Newsmen who were alerted about the panel’s decision to deliver its ruling at about 10 am yesterday were only told that the justices had finished their assignment in Enugu and were already on their way to the airport.
Uba’s supporters who were seen within the premises lamented the hasty manner the case was heard and decided.
None of the counsel from both camps could be reached for comments yesterday but Chuma Nzeribe, the APGA senatorial candidate whose petition ousted Uba reportedly celebrated his victory.
It will be recalled that Justices of the court in Enugu Division led by Justice Abdukadir Jega had heard the petition before the new panel was mandated to take over the matter.
The candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, in the April National Assembly election for the senatorial zone, Chuma Nzeribe, had alleged irregularities in the said election. He, however, asked the National Assembly Elections Petition Tribunal to declare him (Nzeribe) winner of the said election, having scored majority of the lawful votes cast.
However, the lower tribunal after hearing the case dismissed his petition as lacking in merit prompting him to appeal the verdict which ruling was delivered yesterday.
The latest judicial reversal marks the second time Dr. Uba has been removed from an elective post by the courts. In 2007, the Supreme Court kicked him out of the governor’s office in Anambra State after he had spent a mere 17 days.
In a separate judgment of the appellate court yesterday, the member representing Aniocha/Njikoka/Dunukofia federal constitutuency, Mrs. Uche Ekwunife, was removed from her seat while a fresh election was ordered to be conducted in Aniocha local government area of the state.
The court did not give details of its findings as it also promised to do so later.