Andy Uba; Omehia catches the bug

Barring any last minute adjournment, the Supreme Court will today commence hearing on the vexed issue of who the flagbearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State in the April 14, 2007 governorship election was between Mr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and Sir Celestine Omehia. (Related article;Chief Wole Olanipekun Vs Chief Andy Uba 

Just like Andy Uba, who as Obi’s tenure was coming to an end with a new poll to be conducted on February 6, 2010, approached the court to affirm that he is the governor-elect on the basis of the same 2007 governorship poll, Omehia penultimate week had filed an application before the court seeking a review of its judgment delivered on October 25, 2007 saying the court should set the judgment aside.
The court, it would be recalled, had in its judgment delivered on October 25, 2007, not only recognised Amaechi as the PDP candidate in the poll but also declared him as the duly elected governor of the state, thus displacing Omehia as governor of the state.


But Omehia in his latest application is arguing that the reason given by the court on January 18, 2008 for its decision was a nullity because it lacked the jurisdiction and was incompetent to do so. He is contending that the said judgment of the court amounted to a special repeal of Sections 177, 178 (iii) and 179 of the 1999 Constitution, adding that a judgment which deemed a candidate who had not contested an election as having won and lost same was unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect.

According to him the reasoning of the court in its judgment of the case where it stated that “it is only a party that canvasses for votes…and only a party that wins an election”, was an act of judicial lawmaking, which is a fundamental encroachment on the powers assigned to the legislature under the principle of separation of powers. He further averred that the provisions of Sections 177, 178 (iii) and 179 of the 1999 Constitution and Sections 33(i), 34(i) and (iii), 35, 36, 37(i) 38, 39 51, 54 (iv), 64 (i) and (ii) 65, 70, 71, 76, and 103 (i) of the Electoral Act 2006 clearly express the intention of the legislature that the candidate who contests, wins or loses election. 

The court by its findings referred to, Omehia averred, actually made new laws. The former governor argued that the decision of the court where it declared Amaechi as the winner of the election, which he did not contest was not based on any fact, available evidence, law or precedent but in its decree that “it is only a party that canvasses for votes that wins an election.”

Omehia therefore wants the court to make an order restoring the parties to their status quo as of the date preceeding the date of the judgment (October 24, 2007).
It would be recalled that though the gubernatorial election in the state had been conducted on April 14, 2007 and Omehia of PDP declared winner of the poll and sworn in as governor, controversies had
continued to trail the issue of who the authentic PDP candidate in the election in the state was. Despite claims by Omehia and PDP that he  Omehia) was the PDP candidate and governor in the state by virtue of
the PDP winning the April 14 governorship election, Amaechi had deposed otherwise, claiming that if PDP had a governor in the state he should be the one, having overwhelmingly won the party primaries of
December 2006.