From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Court of Appeal Abuja division, yesterday dismissed an appeal filed by George Sekibo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Sekibo was challenging the judgment of the Rivers State National Election Tribunal which sacked him as the senator representing Rivers East Senatorial District.
According to the appellate court, Sekibo’s appeal lacked merit as it did not show any reason the decision of the lower court should be set aside.
In a unanimous judgment, a three-member of the appellate court dismissed Sekibo’s appeal and upheld the judgment of the Rivers State election tribunal which earlier sacked him on June 29, 2017.
Consequently, the appellate court ordered that Sekibo be replaced by Andrew Uchendu of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The court pointed out that the lawmaker only reproduced his closing remarks at the end of the tribunal hearing and did not challenge the judgment itself, which meant the Court of Appeal had no business considering it.
The state election tribunal had in its judgment also held that Sekibo’s opponent, Uchendu, was the true winner of the senatorial seat and directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue him a certificate of return.
Uchendu had contested INEC’s decision to award the December 10, 2016, victory to Sekibo after neglecting to recognise the results of some wards and polling units in the districts.
Sekibo was declared the winner by INEC Returning Officer, Oji Ekumankama on December 12, 2016.
According to Ekumankama, Sekibo won 93,098 votes to defeat Uchendu, who had 34,193 votes.
However, the panel, sitting at Apo Quarters in the Federal Capital Territory, agreed with Uchendu, saying he won the lawful majority votes cast and instructed INEC to withdraw the certificate of return that had been issued to Sekibo.
Sekibo, 60, was first elected to the Senate in 2007, and also won his first re-election.
In another judgment, the same panel of the Court of Appeal upheld the election of APC’s Magnus Abe as a senator representing Rivers South-East Senatorial District.
The court affirmed the judgment of the legislative election tribunal delivered on June 27, 2017, and dismissed the appeal by Olaka Nwogu of the PDP on the grounds that it lacked merit. (The Sun)