The Supreme Court of Nigeria has adjourned sitting indefinitely (sine die) in two appeals filed by the All Progressive Congress (APC) and Chukwuma (Francis) Ibezim over the December 5 Imo North bye-election won by the party.
One appeal was filed by Chukwuma Ibezim against Asomugha Tony Elebeke, All Progressive Congress, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and Senator Ifeanyi Ararume, while the other was filed by the APC against the four respondents.
The adjournment came after the interim chairperson of the APC, Mai Mala Buni, allegedly wrote a petition against three of a five-man panel of the Supreme Court led by Justice Musa Dattijo Muhammad, accusing them of conniving with the Peoples Democratic Party to “subvert” justice in the said election.
The panel challenged the APC to prove its allegations while adjourning the case indefinitely.
“This matters are not going on because there is a petition written against us and signed by the interim Chairperson of the APC.
“The content is that my humble self and two of us have attended a meeting with the PDP to strategize, with the view to subvert the interest of the party.
“My heart bleeds for this country, if people as the interim Chairperson of the APC can make such allegations.
“I will say no more. Let them substantiate their allegations.
“This matter is adjourned sine die (indefinitely) where parties should approach the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court…
“We are not interested in any matter and I challenge him to substantiate his allegations,” Justice Musa Dattijo said.
Reacting to the court’s verdict, Ararume’s lawyer, Ahmed Raji SAN, told the panel that he was shocked at what he was hearing.
” I swear that I don’t know about this and I sympathise with your Lordships, ” he added.
On his part, Umeh Kalu who represented the APC, said he wondered why a senatorial seat was being dragged for so long.
“I am taken aback by this development…I have never met the interim Chairperson of the APC. In the first place, PDP is not a party in this matter. I feel so sorry about this. We have no hand in this,” he said.
Recall that the Appeal Court sitting in Abuja had on February 6, affirmed the judgment of a trial court that had disqualified Chukwuma (Francis) Ibezim as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the December 5 Imo North bye-election won by the party.
Our correspondent learnt that Ibezim had approached the apex court to appeal against his disqualification but for the latest development.
Justice Stephen Adah who read the Appeal Court judgment that day said that the “qualification of a candidate is a cardinal requirement for election into the National Assembly”, hence, agreeing with the trial court’s verdict.
THE WHISTLER reported that the presiding Judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo had on December 4, disqualified Ibezim as the APC Candidate for the December 5 Imo North Bye-election over problems with the WAEC certificate he tendered before INEC.
The judge had said that the documents Ibezim tendered to INEC and APC were filled with false information, especially in his name and age.
“Now that I have found that the information contained in the affidavit and other documents submitted by the 1st defendant to the 2nd and 3rd defendants is false, I enter judgment as follows:
“A declaration is hereby made that the 1st defendant is not qualified/eligible for nomination to contest Imo North Senatorial bye-election having made false statements/declarations in the affidavit and documents he submitted to the 3rd defendant for the purpose of contesting Imo North senatorial bye-election,” he said.
But Ibezim had appealed his disqualification against the following respondents: Asomugha Elebeke, All Progressive Congress, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Senator Ifeanyi Ararume; but it was struck out by the Appeal Court, Abuja.
Also, another trial judge, Taiwo Taiwo had ordered INEC to issue a Certificate of Return to Ararume while affirming that the Appeal Court had upheld Ibezim’s disqualification.