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Court Sacks 20 Cross River Lawmakers For Defecting To APC



Symbol of Justice and APC Flag


A Federal High Court in Abuja has sacked 20 members of the Cross River State House of Assembly for defecting to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had instituted a suit against the lawmakers over their defection to the APC.

The affected lawmakers are Michael Etaba, Legor Idagbor, Eteng Jonah William, Joseph A. Bassey, Odey Peter Agbe, Okon E. Ephraim, Regina L. Anyogo, Matthew S. Olory, Ekpo Ekpo Bassey, Ogbor Ogbor Udop, and Ekpe Charles Okon.

Others are Hillary Ekpang Bisong, Francis B. Asuquo, Elvert Ayambem, Davis Etta, Sunday U. Achunekan, Cynthia Nkasi, Edward Ajang, Chris Nja-Mbu Ogar, and Maria Akwaji.

In opposing the suit, Mike Ozekhome, counsel to the 4th-25th defendants, had challenged the court’s jurisdiction to hear the suit.

He submitted that the cause of action arose in Calabar and that the matter should be transferred to the high court in Calabar.

In his judgement, the presiding judge, Justice Taiwo Taiwo, held that “there is nothing against the law that the suit be heard by this court”.

He said the 4-25th defendants are joined with other defendants who have their offices in Abuja.

Furthermore, in their defence, the lawmakers had argued that there was rancor in the PDP which led to their expulsion from the party.

The APC had in their submissions, told the court that the lawmakers are not registered members of their party.

However, the judge held that the defendants had intentions to mislead the court. He said he found gaps and loopholes in their defence as they tried to twist events to suit their own narratives.

Taiwo noted that they not only defect loudly but “took pictures of their defection and were received by the officials of the 26th defendant.

“The is no doubt that the defendants can belong to or join any political association and assembly as they are free to do so. However, the truth must be told.

“I consider the attempts of the 6th – 25th defendants to justify their defection, feeble in the circumstances of this case.”

Taiwo noted that the public voted for the lawmakers through the plaintiff who sponsored them and they were not voted for as independent candidates.

“They had a vehicle which conveyed them and that vehicle belongs to the plaintiff. They cannot abandon the vehicle,” he held.

He stated that politicians treat citizens that elected them into power as if they do not matter when they assume office, adding that a day will come when elected officers must resign their post if they migrate to another party or seek the permission of the people for permission before they decamp.


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Rivers senatorial poll: Court orders INEC to recognise Atteng as SDP candidate




A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday, ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to accept and publish Fred Atteng’s name as Social Democratic Party (SDP)’s candidate for the Feb. 25 Rivers South East Senatorial District election.

Justice Emeka Nwite, in a judgment, held that the refusal of INEC to recognise Atteng’s name as sent to it by the party for substitution was contrary to the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022.

Justice Nwite said that going by the provision of Section 29 of the Electoral Act, a candidate can only be substituted either as a result of death or withdrawal from a poll.

The judge agreed with the plaintiffs that Gokana Geoffrey, having withdrawn his candidature and resigned his membership from the party as its candidate for the senatorial district poll, and the party, having conducted another primary within 14 days of the action and monitored by INEC, the commission ought to have recognised the new candidate sent to it.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that SDP and Fred Atteng had sued INEC as sole defendant in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/2205/2022.

In the amended originating summons dated Dec. 14, 2022 and filed Dec. 15, 2022 by their team of lawyers, the plaintiffs sought a court declaration that by virtue of Sections 65(2) (b), 106 (d), 177(c) and 187 (1) & (2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), INEC cannot recognise Gokana Geoffrey, who had withdrawn his candidature and resigned his membership from SDP as their candidate for the Rivers South East Senatorial District election.

Besides, they averred that the commission cannot refuse to accept the name of Mr Atteng submitted to it as party’s candidate after a validly conducted and monitored primary.

They, therefore, sought an order, directing INEC to allow the party submit Atteng’s name as represented by it, following Geoffrey’s withdrawal from the race and his subsequent resignation from the party, among others.

Though the matter was slated for judgment last Friday, the judge adjourned the matter due to a counter affidavit earlier filed by INEC dated Dec. 30, 2022.

Besides, INEC was not represented in court despite a notice of judgment served on the commission.

Counsel to the plaintiffs, Jibrin Jibrin, had earlier prayed the court to dismiss INEC’s counter affidavit which, he argued, was filed out of time contrary to Order 3, Rules 3 to 4 of the FHC Practice Direction.

In addition, he said they were not served with the said application.

When the matter was called on Monday, though Musa Ogah appeared for the plaintiffs, no lawyer represented INEC in court.

Delivering the judgment, Justice Nwite agreed with the plaintiffs that “elections are sui generis.”

He held that though the electoral umpire had about 10 days to respond to the originating summons served on them by the plaintiffs, the commission only responded on Dec. 30, 2022.

Nwite, therefore, discountenanced INEC’s application.

He said though the commission was the statutory body empowered to regulate activities of elections in the country, this must be done within enabling provisions of the law.

He held that INEC’s scheduled of activities to ensure a successful election cannot supercede the Electoral Act, 2022.

The judge, who directed INEC to allow SDP submit its candidate for substitution in the poll, order the commission to accept and publish Atteng’s name as the party’s candidate for the Rivers senatorial election.






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Supreme Court Restores Akpabio As APC’s Candidate For Akwa Ibom North




The Supreme Court has restored former Akwa Ibom State Governor, Godwin Akpabio as the senatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for Akwa Ibom North Senatorial District.

The Court of Appeal judgment delivered on November 14, 2022, which voided his candidacy was overturned.

In a unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Ibrahim Saulawa, the apex court upheld the ruling of the Federal High Court in Abuja which in September last year granted a verdict in favour of the immediate past Minister of Niger Delta Affairs.

Justice Saulawa after reviewing the arguments canvassed by Akpabio said that his appeal was meritorious and allowed.

In a lead judgment, Justice Saulawa held that the “appeal succeeds on merit and is allowed.”

The judgment was on an appeal filed by Akpabio challenging the judgment of the Court of Appeal Abuja, which set aside his victory at the Federal High Court Abuja.

In arriving at the decision, the Supreme Court in a unanimous judgment said each of the 10 issues formulated by the appellant was resolved in his favour, and against the respondent.

The Supreme Court held that the lower court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the case, adding that whatever decision arrived at by the court amounted to nullity.

It would be recalled that the Court of Appeal, Abuja had on November 14, 2022, set aside the judgment of Federal High Court Abuja, removing Akpabio as the APC candidate for Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District.

A three-member panel of Justices led by Justice Danlami Senchi held that Akpabio failed to file a proof of arguments within the time provided by the rules.

The panel further ruled that Akpabio, having contested the presidential primary of the APC, could not participate in the valid primary of the party held on May 27 and monitored by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which produced Udom Ekpoudom as a candidate.

But Justice Emeka Nwite of a Federal High Court Abuja had on September 22, 2022, ordered the INEC to reinstate Akpabio as APC’s candidate, being the candidate nominated by the party in the second primary of June 9.

The trial court had directed INEC to accept the former Minister of Niger Delta as the APC flagbearer.

Justice Nwite also ordered INEC to publish Akpabio’s name as APC senatorial candidate for Akwa Ibom North/West senatorial district in 2023, stating that the Commission acted illegally by refusing to accept and publish the former governor’s name when it was submitted to it by the APC as its candidate.

Justice Nwite added that Akpabio was validly nominated as the Akwa Ibom North/West Senatorial District candidate of the APC from the primary conducted by the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) on June 9, 2022.

The trial Judge faulted INEC for electing to monitor the May 27 primary conducted by an illegal faction of the party led by Augustine Ekanem as against the June 9 primary conducted by the APC NWC.



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Muslim-Muslim Ticket: Court Dismisses Lawyer’s Suit Seeking To Disqualify Tinubu




Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed of the Federal High Court Abuja, has dismissed a suit seeking disqualification of the All Progressives Congress and Bola Tinubu over the nomination of Muslim-muslim candidacy, for the 2023 presidential election.

The suit instituted by an Abuja based legal practitioner, Mister Osigwe Momoh was thrown out by the Judge on ground of lack of locus standi by the plaintiff.

Justice Mohammed held that the lawyer, not being a member of the APC and having not participated in the process that produced Tinubu and his running mate, Kashim Shetima cannot query them on the nominations.

The legal practitioner had in the suit prayed the Court for an order nullifying the candidature of APC and Tinubu from participating in the presidential election on the ground that the nomination of Muslim-muslim candidacy is unconstitutional and against the spirit and letters of sections 14, 15 and 224 of the 1999 Constitution.

He asked the court for an order of perpetual injunction to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from publishing the name of APC and its presidential candidate for the purpose of the 2023 election.

However in his judgment, Justice Mohammed disagreed with the plaintiff on legal right to institute the case and subsequently dismissed it in its entirety.


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