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Anambra Central Senatorial rerun must hold tomorrow, Appeal Court insists

The Court of Appeal in Abuja on Thursday declined to hear an application seeking to restrain the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from conducting the rerun election for Anambra Central Senatorial District .

The appellate court further held that its earlier order of November 20, 2017 directing INEC to conduct rerun election for the senatorial seat within 90 days is still subsisting.

Justice of the Court of Appeal (JCA), Justice Abubakar Yahaya, stated this while ruling on an application brought by the senatorial aspirant of the Peoples Democratic party (PDP), Senator Ani Clement Okonkwo.

The appellate court further declined the request for the postponement of the election scheduled for tomorrow .

Okonkwo, had through his lawyer, Chief Solomon Umoh (SAN), approached the appellate court for leave to appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal which had on November 20 last year ordered INEC to conduct fresh election into the vacant Anambra Central Senatorial District within 90 days.

In the application filed by Umoh, Okonkwo claimed that he as an senatorial aspirant is appealing against the judgment delivered on November 20, last year.

But the application could not be entertained because most parties joined in the application were not served with the court processes by Okonkwo.

Apparently cut in the web, Okonkwo then applied for an adjournment to enable him serve court processes on the respondents.

But mindful of the fact that the senatorial election had been fixed by INEC for tomorrow, Okonkwo applied to the three-man panel of the Appeal Court for an order compelling the electoral body not to conduct the election until his application has been dully determined.

He urged the court to compel INEC’s lawyer, Tanimu Inuwa, to make an undertaken in the open court that INEC will not go ahead with the election having become aware of his pending application, so as not to render the application useless.

At this stage, the INEC lawyer objected to the request for an order to put the election on hold on the grounds that huge public funds has been expended over preparation for the poll by INEC.

Inuwa also insisted that INEC will not make any undertaken to postpone the poll because of the subsisting appeal court judgment of November 20 which ordered INEC to conduct the poll within 90.

In his brief ruling on the matter, Justice Abubakar Yahaya held that the appellate court could not compel INEC to make any undertaken to postpone the election because of an application that was not ripe for hearing.
The JCA further held that the Appeal Court having made an order on November 20 last year, could not approbate and reprobate at the same time.

Justice Yahaya said, “For the avoidance of doubt, we have not restrained INEC from conducting the election as ordered by this court on November 20, 2017”.

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