Court Declares Ararume Winner Of Imo North Senatorial District - THE ENCOUNTER NEWS


Friday, March 19, 2021

Court Declares Ararume Winner Of Imo North Senatorial District

ABUJA - Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, has ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to recognise Senator Ifeanyi Ararume, as the winner of the December 5, 2020 bye-election for the Imo North Senatorial District of Imo State.

Justice Taiwo held in a judgment that Ararume remains the authentic candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) and should be declared winner of the election.

The judge also ordered the electoral body to issue Certificate of Return (CoR) to Senator Ararume within 72 hours from the delivery of the judgment.

Earlier, the judge dismissed the preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain Ararume’s suit filed by the APC and Chukwuma Francis Ibezim.

One of the parties in the disputed Imo North senatorial election, Chukwuma Francis Ibezim, has appealed and filed a notice of stay of execution yesterday’s ruling by the high court, which declared Senator Ifeanyi Ararume, winner of the contest.

In a statement he issued on the verdict last night, Ibezim thwrough his campaign spokesman, Oseloka Zikora, said he is also challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain Ararume’s suit.

He described the judgement as a travesty of justice since the Supreme Court had already decided the issue of who the APC candidate for the Imo North Senatorial bye-election in his favour.

Ibezim added he believes that “it is a settled matter of law that Judges do not adjudicate further any case already before an appellant court. Therefore on the issue of the high court disqualifying him being an ongoing case before the Supreme Court, Justice Taiwo ought to have exercised discretion and allowed the apex court to decide on the matter before arriving at a decision. Ibezim has therefore filed a notice of appeal and stay of execution at the Appeal Court on Taiwo’s judgement.”

Ararume had, through his counsel, Ahmed Raji (SAN), told Justice Taiwo to invoke the judgments of a Federal High Court and that of the Appeal Court to disqualify Ibezim and declare him as the rightful candidate for APC.

Raji said the judgments of the high court and later the Court of Appeal have conclusively disqualified Ibezim and cannot claim to be an aspirant or candidate in the Imo North Senatorial election.

In opposing Ararume’s suit, APC had told the court that it never fielded Ararume for the last year December senatorial bye-election for Imo North Senatorial district of Imo state.

The party had insisted that Ararume lacked the locus standi to lay claim to the candidacy and urged the court to dismiss his suit.

Ararume had dragged the INEC, APC and Ibezim before the Federal High Court, praying for an order to compel INEC to recognise him as APC senatorial candidate in the election won by the party.

He claimed that Ibezim, having been disqualified by a Federal High Court on account of supplying false information to INEC to secure clearance and same disqualification having been upheld by the Court of Appeal in Abuja, had knocked off Ibezim from laying any claim to the outcome of the by-election.

But, the APC, through its counsel, Osho Daudu asked the court to discountenance Ararume’s claims, insisting that his name was never forwarded to INEC but that of Chukwuma Francis Ibezim.

The counsel submitted that a Federal High Court judgment delivered in Owerri, Imo State which erroneously conferred locus on Ararume had been voided by Supreme Court and cannot confer any advantage on the plaintiff.

Emma Osayomi, representing Ibezim, in his own submissions, said that his client has approached the Supreme Court to challenge his disqualification on account of variation in his name.

The counsel argued that as at the election day, the name of his client was on the INEC list and not that of Ararume and urged the court to dismiss Ararume’s claims and hold that Chukwuemeka Francis remains the APC candidate.

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