Court Vacates Judgment Stopping Anambra Senatorial Rerun

The Federal High Court Abuja, on Friday, set aside its own judgment delivered on Dec. 13, 2017 which asked the Senate President to swear-in Obiora Okonkwo as Senator representing Anambra Central Senatorial District.

Justice John Tsoho, set aside his earlier judgment while delivering ruling in an application for variation of the judgment filed by INEC.

INEC filed the application praying the court to vary the judgment to enable it conduct the Jan. 13 re-run election as ordered by the Court of Appeal.

Tsoho vacated the judgment and set it aside on the grounds that Okonkwo misled the court to get the consent judgment.

The judge said that he could set aside his judgment because it was a consent judgment and not a judgment based on merit.

“The judgment being a consent judgment and not one on merit, the court has jurisdiction to revisit it,” Tsoho said.

The judge noted the three existing judgments from the Court of Appeal to which Okonkwo was a party.

The three judgments had ordered the electoral umpire to conduct the senatorial election for the Anambra central senatorial district within 90 days without the participation of the PDP.

According to Tsoho, in the doctrine of precedence, Court of Appeal decisions takes precedence over decisions of any lower court.

Tsoho held that the Federal High Court being a lower court was bound by the decisions of the appellate court.

He disagreed with Okonkwo in his claim that he was not a party to the suits in the court of appeal.

He noted that since his party, the PDP was a party to the suits; it implied that he, (Okonkwo) was also a party.

It will be recalled that the judge had on Dec. 13, 2017, ordered that Okonkwo be sworn-in as a senator representing Anambra central senatorial district and also ordered INEC to issue him a certificate of return.

The judge had ordered that if a certificate of return had previously been issued to any person; it should be withdrawn and given to Okonkwo.

The judge adjourned the matter indefinitely pending the outcome of the Supreme Court decision on the matter.

It will be recalled that the court of appeal judgment had excluded the PDP from participating in the re-run election on the grounds that the party did not conduct primary elections.

The court held that the time for primary elections had elapsed and the PDP could no longer field a candidate in the election.

The PDP appealed the judgment at the Supreme Court and the apex court is yet to hear the matter.

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