The Court of Appeal in Abuja on Monday, reserved judgment in an appeal brought by Senator George Sekibo, representing Rivers East constituency at the National Assembly, challenging the propriety of his removal.
The court reserved the judgment after counsel representing parties in the suit adopted their respective written briefs of their arguments.
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) who 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 Uchendu.
The Tribunal’s decision was predicated on the grounds that 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, seeking to reverse 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 lawyer, Emmanuel Ukala SAN contained 23 grounds upon which the judgment of the tribunal is been challenged.
When the matter was mentioned yesterday both Senator Sekibo and Uchendu were present in court.
While D. C. DeNwigwe SAN adopted and relied on his written brief for his argument and urged the appellate court to allow the appeal, lawyer to the first respondent (Andrew Uchendu), Lateef Fagbemi SAN, adopted his written addresses and urged the court to dismiss the appeal.
Lawyer to the second second respondent (All Progressive Congress), Roland Otaru SAN similarly in his argument urged the court to dismiss the appeal for lacking in merit.
But the lawyer to the third and fourth respondents; Independent National Electoral Commission and the People’s Democratic Party did not oppose the appeal.
Responding, the three-man panel headed by Justice Adamu Jauro announced that judgment in the appeal would be delivered in a date to be communicated to parties in the matter.
The Senator Sekibo’s appeal was among the 15 appeals arising from the decision of the Rivers State Elections Petition Tribunal entertained yesterday by two courts in the Abuja division of the Court of Appeal.
The courts however reserved judgement in all the appeals to a date to be communicated to parties.