An Enugu Appeal Court has nullified the election that produced Senstor Uche Ekwunife from Anambra Central Senatorial Zone and ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a fresh election within 90 days to produce a new senator for the senatorial district.
Mrs. Ekwunife of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) had contested against the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chris Ngige of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and a former National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance(APGA), Victor Umeh, in the March 28 National Assembly election.
The National Assembly Election Tribunal presided over by Justice Nayai Aganaba, had earlier upheld the election of Mrs. Ekwunife who is currently the chairperson, senate committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream).
However, in delivering the lead judgment on the appeal brought by Umeh challenging the judgment of the lower tribunal which earlier upheld Mrs. Ekwunife’s election, the court faulted the earlier judgement. “The perverse judgment of the lower tribunal cannot stand,” Justice A.D Yahaya, chairman of the three-man appeal panel, while reading the judgement, said.
“The appeal succeeds. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should conduct fresh election in Anambra Central within 90 days to elect a new senator for the senatorial district.”
The two other judges in the appeal panel, T.O. Awotoye and Justice D.S. Sanga, concurred with the lead judgment.
In an interview with journalists, Umeh expressed joy over the judgement. He said: “You people worked hard during the election. People voted for us but PDP rigged the election. The army and the police were with them. Nobody will insult anybody again. We are going to the electorate with utmost humility. All through the period, our faith never shook. They will now acknowledge the power of God. PDP’s recklessness and impunity is now over. During the coming election, there will be no armoured cars, no police.”
The former APGA chairman said he will soon write INEC to make sure that the corrupt officials, who participated in rigging the nullified election, are not allowed to take part in the fresh election ordered by the Court.
According to him, “I will write INEC. INEC will not allow this to happen again. Those who conducted the last election will not participate again. This is government of change. I am happy that PDP that foisted this heist died in the last election.”
On her part, Mrs. Ekwunife said she accepted the judgement and was ready for a fresh election.
By Olisemeka Obeche (with agency reports)