HON. ERIC ACHO NWAKANMA V. ENYINNAYA ABARIBE & ORS
CITATION: (2008) LPELR-CA/PH/EPT/220/2008
   
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Nigerian Coat of Arms
In The Court of Appeal
(Port Harcourt Judicial Division)
On Wednesday, the 10th day of December, 2008
Suit No: CA/PH/EPT/220/2008
 
 Between
HON. ERIC ACHO NWAKANMA Appelants
 
 And
1. ENYINNAYA ABARIBE
2. THE CHAIRMAN INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION (INEC)
3. INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION (INEC)
4. THE RESIDENT ELECTORAL COMMISSIONER ABIA STATE
5. MR. JOHN ONYEOTITI
6. MR. FELIX OBIA
7. THE RETURNING OFFICER ABIA SOUTH SENATORIAL DISTRICT
8. THE ELECTORAL OFFICER OBINGWA LGA
9. THE ELECTORAL OFFICER UGWUNAGBOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT
10. SUPOL THEOPILUS I. IKENNA UGWUOKE (DIVISIONAL POLICE OFFICER, EASTERN NGWA POLICE STATION)
Respondents
 
SUMMARY OF JUDGMENT 

The Petitioner now the Appellant and the 1st Respondent both contested election to the seat of a Senator in the National Assembly for the Abia South senatorial District. In the said election that was held on 28/4/2007, the petitioner contested under the platform of Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) while the 1st Respondent contested under the platform of the peoples Democratic Parry (PDP). After the election the 1st Respondent was declared the winner and thus returned. Aggrieved, the petitioner filed his petition at the Governorship/Legislative Houses Elections Tribunal sitting at Umuahia, Abia State on the following three main grounds:

1. That the 1st Respondent whose election is questioned was at the time of the election on 28th April, 2007, not qualified to contest the said election;

2. That the erection of the 1st Respondent was invalid by reason of corrupt practices and or non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2006: and

3. That the 1st Respondent was not elected by a majority of the lawful votes cast at the election.

Upon service of the petition on him, 1st Respondent filed his reply to the petition wherein he denied averments in the petition.

The case of the 1st Respondent vide paragraphs 8-37 of his Reply is that he was qualified to contest and did contest and won the said election by majority of lawful votes cast at the election. He maintained that the election was free and fair and conducted in substantial compliance with the Electoral Act 2006.

The 2nd - 9th Respondents also filed their own Reply in which they essentially denied the allegation of the petitioner; they denied that the election was marred by violence, rather it was free and fair; they denied any corrupt practices as alleged in the petition.

The 10th Respondent admitted receiving reports from his officers in the field that election materials were snatched at gun point in some wards and units and that election never took place in those wards and units.

The petitioner called 10 witnesses while 1st Respondent called 17 witnesses. 3 witnesses testified for the 2nd - 9th Respondents while the 10th Respondent testified for himself.

At the close of evidence, the parties filed written addresses which they adopted. In his address 1st Respondent raised the issue of non-joinder of necessary parties to the petition and concluded that failure to do so have the effect of rendering any paragraph of the petition containing such an allegation against the party not joined incompetent. In his reply, the petitioner drew the attention of the Tribunal to the proviso to section 144(2) of the Electoral Act, 2006 and paragraph 3(v) of the petition which he said had effectively taken care of the contention of the 1st Respondent.

However, the Tribunal in its considered judgment on 23/4/2008 affirmed the declaration and return of the 1st Respondent as duly elected. Petitioner felt aggrieved. He appealed on 7 grounds.

In the final result, the appeal was completely bereft of substance and it merits a dismissal and it was dismissed with costs of N30, 000.00 only in favour of the 1st Respondent.

   
Appearances
 
AWA U. KALU, SAN with C.O. Nwaogu Esq, M.C. Okonkwo Esq, E. Apong Esq For the Appelants
 
ELDER C.A.N NWOKE UKWU ESQ with H. Balogu Esq, Chidi Nkalu Esq, L.T.C. Eruba Esq, F.I. Nwokeukwu (Mrs), and Emeka Eze Esq.

M.O. ONYEKA ESQ with I.C. Dimiri Esq. and I. Nwigboko Esq.
For the Respondents