Chief Alphonsus Igbeke, the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP candidate, was last March, declared by the Court of Appeal Enugu as the winner of the Anambra North Senatorial election almost a year after the same court of appeal had returned Senator Joy Emodi of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as validly elected candidate. But the controversy, following, Court of Appeal Enugu ruling deepened at
the weekend following revelations that INEC Chairman; Prof. Maurice Iwu confronted an INEC Commissioner, over claims that he certified the results presented by Igbeke at the tribunal.
All the result sheets were certified at Awka INEC Headquarters from the result sheets at INEC Headquarters Office in Abuja.
The INEC Commissioner was said to have reportedly certified the results presented by Igbeke.
It was gathered that the INEC federal commissioner, who Igbeke allegedly claimed to have certified the results he tendered before the tribunal had vehemently denied the claim when confronted by Iwu.
INEC sources say that the INEC Commissioner was said to have vehemently disowned the certified results, affirming that he could not have certified it when the Resident Electoral Commissioner and the INEC Administrative Secretary were available in Awka to certify the results as they did for every other contestant, as all the result sheets were certified at Awka and not at INEC Headquarters, Abuja.
Similarly, the then Administrative Secretary of INEC in Anambra State, Mr. E. Effanga was also said to have denied certifying the election results for the petitioner, because according to sources close to INEC, the results did not emanate from the commission and there was no way, therefore any reasonable officer of the commission would have certified results which he/she was not sure of their source.
Senator Emodi’s lawyer Chief Tony Mogboh, SAN, had questioned the authenticity of the result when presented at the tribunal describing them as “oven baked” on account of the freshness of the paper on which they were written.
Meanwhile the Senate has refused to swear-in Chief Igbeke on the basis of the contradictory judgments presented by Senator Emodi and Chief Igbeke.
It will be recalled that the same court of appeal that declared ANPP’s Igbeke winner had earlier returned Senator Joy Emodi of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as validly elected candidate.
Senate admits Emordi, bars Igbeke
Citing the conflicting judgments by the Court of Appeal, Enugu, and the on-going court process by Senator Joy Emordi seeking interpretation of the judgment that ousted her from the Senate as reasons, the Senate yesterday declined to swear in Hon. Alphonsus Igbeke who was declared winner of the Anambra North Senatorial seat in the April 2007 election by the Court of Appeal, Enugu.
Hon. Igbeke who came into the National Assembly hoping to be sworn-in by the Clerk of the National Assembly was not allowed into the chambers of the Senate. He was told by the Clerk of the National Assembly that he needed to clear with the Senate President
The Court of Appeal, Enugu, had at different sittings declared both the incumbent, Joy Emordi and the petitioner, Alphonsus Igbeke, winners of the April 2007 Anambra North Senatorial election in 2009 and 2010 respectively.
Senator Emordi had asked the Court of Appeal, Enugu, to set aside ex-debito-justiciae, the judgment nullifying her election or in the alternative order a review of the judgment awarded Hon. Igbeke.
Addressing Senate correspondents after yesterday’s session which had in attendance, the ousted Senator Joy Emordi, spokesman of the Senate, Senator Ayogu Eze said the decision to allow Senator Emordi continue on her seat was because of “subsisting court processes.”
Senator Eze said: “We have a procedure in the Senate and it is even in our rules. When matters are in court, we do not interfere in order not to affect the judicial process.
There are two judgments on the Anambra North Senatorial seat and Senator Joy Emordi has gone to court to seek interpretation. The court processes have been served on the Senate. We will not do anything until we get the interpretation from the courts.”
While asserting that “the Senate does not have any preference for any of the parties involved in the case,” Senator Eze said the Senate would be failing in its responsibilities if it did not allow Senator Emordi to remain on her seat.
He added: “We will be failing in our responsibilities and duties to go and take any action that foreclose whatever that interpretation was meant to achieve.”
But addressing Senate correspondents after he was denied entry into the Senate chambers, Hon. Igbeke said what the Senate did constituted a breach of the constitution which they all swore to uphold and defend. He vowed to continue to come into the National Assembly until the right thing was done.
Igbeke, however, accused the Senate of trying to deny him entry into the National Assembly premises, stressing that as a former member of the House of Representatives, he had a right to be allowed into the National Assembly.
He said: “I am here today for the purposes of swearing in, but to my greatest shock I just learnt that my opponent who was sacked by the Court of Appeal in Enugu, is right there in the Chamber sitting despite this order of the Court of Appeal.
As I am talking to you there is no other order rather than that one given on 25th March, 2010.
“There is no stay of execution; there is no injunction, there is nothing that warranted her being given the legal backings to get into hallowed chamber.
It is shocking, it’s a surprise, I can’t believe this. I can’t believe this but I was surprised when the Clerk came in to tell me that my opponent was right there in the chamber sitting.”
Amongst the grounds upon Senator Emordi is seeking relief is the fact that the judgment 25th March, 2010 which returned Alphonsus Igbeke as the rightful winner “was delivered without averting to the earlier judgment in appeal No CA/E/EPT.73/2008.”
She also argues that “the judgment of the Court of Appeal in appeal number CA/E/EPT/73/2008 has conclusively determined all the issues canvassed in Appeal No: CA/E/EPT/04/2009 delivered on the 25th March, 2010.”
Jubilation over Emordi’s alleged return to the Senate
There was jubilation in Onitsha and other parts of Anambra North Senatorial zone yesterday, when news filtered in that Senator Joy Emordi, representing the zone, had returned to take her seat.
At Emordi’s legislative office in Onitsha, hundreds of her supporters trooped to the office, where they danced and jubilated that the senator, who they said, had done so much for the zone since she entered the Senate, should continue with her good quality representation.
Also at Aguleri in Anambra East Local Government Area and Atani in Ogbaru Local Government Area, PDP supporters trouped out in large numbers to thank God for making it possible for Emordi to return to the Senate.