Anambra Central: Appeal Court upholds Umeh’s election


anambra-upholds-victor-umehThe Court of Appeal in Abuja has upheld the election of former Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Victor Umeh, as the senator representing Anambra Central Senatorial District.

A five-man panel of the court held, in a unanimous judgment yesterday, that the appeal filed by Obiora Okonkwo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was without merit, and dismissed it.

Obiora had appealed the January 12 ruling by Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court of Abuja, in which the judge set aside the court’s earlier judgment of December 13, last year, ordering the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue a Certificate of Return to Okonkwo.

The Court of Appeal held that Justice Tsoho was right to have set aside the consent judgment it delivered on December, 13, last year.

Justice Frederick Oho, who read the lead judgment of the appellate court, held that the lower court was in order in setting aside the judgment because it was a nullity.

Justice Oho said a lower court has inherent powers to set the records straight by setting aside the consent judgment once it was discovered that there were infractions leading to the judgment.

Noting that a court cannot sit as an appeal on its own case, Justice Oho said a court has the power to reverse itself, if it discovers that its earlier judgment was obtained by fraud or that it was misled, as is the case here.

Justice Oho described as sacrilegious events surrounding the December 13, last year’s consent judgment of the Federal High Court.

He noted that despite being aware of the decision of the Court of Appeal, which ordered that a fresh election be conducted for the seat within 90 days with the exclusion of the PDP and its candidate, the appellant (Okonkwo), who was the candidate of the PDP, still proceeded to mislead the lower court to give judgment in his favour.

Justice Oho described the attitude of the appellant as a clear disobedience to the orders of the Court of Appeal.

He added Okokwo’s lawyer was duty bound to have furnished the court with all relevant facts in the case including the three judgments by the Court of Appeal.

He held that whether the matter is a pre-election or post-election matter, the lower court must always give way to the appellate court on the same issue.