Friday, April 27, 2012

Court adjourns judgment on suit to sack Chime indefinitely

A Federal High Court presided over by Justice Adamu Bello has again adjourned judgment on the suit seeking to sack Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State from office, sine-die (indefinitely).
Bello had on February 20 fixed judgment on the matter for April 23, but he informed parties when the court resumed that judgment was not ready saying, however, that he  would  in due time, communicate a new date to them.

A former governorship aspirant in the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in the state, Chief Alexander Obiechina, had approached the court, querying the  propriety of the ‘’special’’ primary election that saw the emergence of Chime as candidate of the party last year.
Obiechina contended that the laid down conditions precedent for nominating a candidate for the governorship position, as provided in Sections 85(1) and 87(1)(4)(b) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) were not fulfilled in the case of Chime, asking the  court to determine whether the special congress  held for Chime’s nomination was validly held on January 12, 2011.
He said he met all the requirements and was duly cleared to contest the primaries alongside the governor and other aspirants, but added that he was illegally excluded from participation.
According to him, while he was busy soliciting support of the electorate in the state for the primaries, he heard on the state radio that Chime had won the gubernatorial ticket to fly the party’s flag in the election, even when the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, was not informed at least 21 days to the primaries as required by Section 85 (1) of the Electoral Act.
Insisting that Chime was handpicked through a kangaroo process, Obiechina through his lawyer, Mr Oba Maduabuchi, urged the trial court to nullify the said illegal primary election and order governor Chime to forthwith vacate the office.

“My lord, it was section 31(1) of the Electoral Act that made it possible for Chime to even participate in the April 26, 2011 governorship election pending the outcome of this suit, otherwise he was a goner”, the plaintiff averred.

The INEC, in a written address before the court, also washed its hands off the said controversial primaries, maintaining that the January 12, 2011, primary election in Enugu where Chime was nominated  breached  the provision of Section 85(1) of the Electoral Act, 2010, as amended.
“With respect to primary elections said to be conducted on January 11 and 12, 2011, it can be said that what was passed as the “Notice’ was the plaintiff’s exhibit addresses to the Resident Electoral Commissioner at Enugu, which most certainly is not the same as the first defendant, who by the clear terms of section 85(1) of the Electoral Act, 2010 must be the Commission itself.
“This apart, the letter is dated January 10, 2011 and apparently was received on January 11, 2011, the very next day.

“It gave notice of primaries scheduled for the same day. Certainly, no one should be left in doubt that the envisaged notice of 21 days was not complied with in obvious violation of section 85(1]). Added to the foregoing is the fact that the resident Electoral Commissioner cannot be regarded as the Commission, which presents a further violation.
“It stands to reason that a notice of primary election dated January 10, 2011 for the events to be held on January 11 and 12, 2011 has the potential of violating the right to equal opportunity to be voted for.
“Having said that, INEC, reiterates that there was clear non-compliance with section 85(1) of the Electoral Act, 2010”, the Commission submitted.

However, Governor Chime and the PDP adduced reasons why the suit should be dismissed in its entirety. The PDP  and Chime were represented by the former National Legal Adviser, Chief Olusola Oke, who drew attention of the court to a Supreme Court judgment in a case involving Senator Lado Vs the CPC, which he said fortified the party’s objection to the jurisdiction of this court to entertain the suit.
Chime’s Counsel  Mrs Justina Offiah, SAN, adopted the prayers of the party, insisting that her client was validly nominated for the Enugu state gubernatorial election.

Culled from Vanguardnews

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