by Yemi Oyeyemi, Abuja.
The Court of Appeal in Abuja Thursday dismissed the appeal brought before it by Senator George Thompson Sekibo, challenging the decision of the Rivers State National and State Election Petition tribunal which sat in Abuja and nullified his election to the Senate.
The tribunal had in June returned Mr. Andrew Uchendu of the All Progressive Congress (APC) as the duly elected senator for Rivers East.
Delivering judgment in the appeal of Sekibo Justice Adamu Jauro held that the petition filed by the ousted Senator lacked merit and substance and consequently dismissed it.
However in another judgment delivered by Justice Habeeb Adewale Abiru, the Appellate Court upheld the election of Senator Magnus Abe of Rivers South East.
The appeal brought against Abe by Mr. Oloka Johnson Nwogu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was dismissed for been baseless and lacking in merit.
Justice Abiru said that the issues raised by Nwogu in his petition against Abe’s election were criminal in nature and were not proved beyond reasonable doubt as required by law at the tribunal.
In the judgment in Sekibo’s appeal, the court held that the tribunal was correct in the removal of Sekibo from the Senate on the grounds that the provisions of the Electoral Act and guidelines of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were violated in the conduct of the election.
The Rivers State Election Petition Tribunal had in a judgment delivered last June ordered the removal of Sekibo as the Senator representing the people of Rivers East constituency at the National Assembly.
Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Goddy Anunihu in the judgment also ordered the immediate replacement of Sekibo with Andrew Uchendu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) which the court held was the winner of the senatorial election.
The Tribunal also directed the Independent National Electoral Commission to withdraw the Certificate of Return it issued to Sekibo and issue a fresh Certificate of Return to Mr Uchendu.
The Tribunal’s decision was predicated on the grounds that Mr Uchendu won the lawful majority vote cast during the Rivers Re-run legislative election.
Also, the Tribunal had sighted substantial non compliance with the Electoral Act and INEC guidelines for arriving at the decision to order the removal of Sekibo from office.
Not satisfied with the judgment of the tribunal, Sekibo approached the appellate court to upturn the decision of the tribunal.
The appeal with Appeal number: CA/A/EPT/487/2017, dated 20th July 2017 and filed same day by his counsel, Mr. Emmanuel Ukala SAN contains 23 grounds upon which the judgment of the tribunal was been challenged.
But Justice Jauro refused to upturn the tribunal’s verdict on the grounds that the findings by the tribunal were accurate and correct in law.
The appeal Court held that where an election has been found to have been conducted in breach of the Electoral Act and INEC guidelines, such an election shall be liable to dismissal as rightly done by the tribunal.
In the third appeal on Rivers West Senatorial District, the Appellate court also upheld the election of Senator Osinachukwu Ideozu of the PDP.
The court in the judgment delivered by Justice Mohammed Mustapha dismissed the appeal brought against Ideozu by Otelemaba Amachree of the All Progressive Congress.
With the judgments, the APC now has two senators while the PDP has one in the Senate.