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Amori ask A-Court to reverse ruling sacking him as Senator …It is an invitation to anarchy; Appeal Court lacks Jurisdiction- Omo-Agege

The Court of Appeal, Benin City, Edo State, has reserve rule in a fresh application filed by Chief Ighoyota Amori, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Delta Central Senatorial District election of March 28 and April 25, 2015, seeking the court to set aside its judgement which declared Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, candidate of the Labour Party as winner of the election.

Senator Ovie Omo-Agege and Chief Ighoyota Amori

The appellate court had on December 19, 2015, nullified the election of Amori and declared Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, as winner of the election after it had set aside the verdict of the lower tribunal which upheld the declaration of Amori as winner of the election by the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC.

Not satisfied with the ruling, Amori had petitioned the President of the Court of Appeal and filed an application notice of appeal in a suit No: CB/5M/2016, urging the appellate court to set aside its earlier judgement sacking him and uphold his election as declared by the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC, nothing that the same court had earlier uphold his election in Hon. Halims Agoda and APC case.

At the resume hearing of the case on Friday in Benin before the 5-man reconstituted panel led by Justice A. Aguie, (Chairman) Justice R. Agbo, Justice Omoleye, Justice A. Mustapha and Justice Oniyangi, the counsel to Chief Amori and PDP, Mr. Efe Akpofure SAN, urged the court to uphold it earlier judgment which had affirmed Amori’s victory in APC and Hon. Halims Agoda’s case and set aside its verdict on Omo-Agege’s case.

Akpofure argued that having giving judgement on same electoral matter from the same Delta Central Senatorial District, in the case of APC and Halims Agoda, four days earlier affirming Amori’s victory, the court cannot go back and give a conflicting judgement.

Citing some legal authorities, he noted that, “the court of Appeal cannot appropriate and reprobate, having giving judgement on same case, the court is bound by its ruling.” He added.

In his submission, counsel to Senator Omo-Agege, Mr. Robert Emukperou, stated that the appellate court lacks jurisdiction to hear the case stressing that the decision of the court of appeal on legislative election matter is final and not subject to appeal or review.

According to him, “with regards to the fact that the constitution gave a 60-day window for hearing and disposal of anything what so ever that has to do with legislative election, this timeframe has since elapse, on December 22, 2015, hence the finality of the case.”

He had told the court that material evidence, pleading and relief sought in Agoda’s and Omo-Agege’s are different, stressing that when evidence and relief sought are different, the verdict consequently will be different.

He added that, “the basis upon which Amori’s application is predicated is an erroneous assumption which is that in one case the question of who won the election arose, meaning in Agoda’s case and that the other case that same question arose and that the court of appeal gave different conflicting decision.

While citing Supreme Court and Court of Appeal authorities on same issue, including the judgement delivered by the current chairman of the 5-man panel, Omo-Agege’s counsel argued that reviewing an earlier judgement of the court of appeal by same court is an invitation to anarchy, because it then means that all electoral matters decided in appeal court would be revisited.

Emukperou, in an interview with Journalists outside the court room stated that, “our own position was to try to demonstrate to the court today that position does not represent the correct position and we also dealt with the definition whether the court of appeal whatever the position may be whether they are right or wrong, does the court of appeal itself have any jurisdiction to even entertain this kind of application?

“Having regards to the fact that the constitution gave sixty (60) days for the hearing and disposal of anything what so ever that has to do with that election. Those sixty days has passed since December 22, 2015 and we are here in February arguing an application. The sole purpose of those provisions is to ensure that election related matters are terminated, they come to an end and the victors declared by court or by INEC can focus on their legislative and other duties.

On the issue of jurisdiction stated that it revolves around two provision of the constitution, one says that in relation to the decision of the court of appeal in legislative election matter is final, it is not subject to appeal, and it is not subject to review.

“The other provision says that an election appeal before the Court of Appeal shall be held before sixty (60) days, and the way the Supreme Court and even the Court of Appeal have interpreted this provision they have interpreted as a bar, the first bar is that once decision is given it is final, it means that it cannot be faulted, no matter how wrong it is, it cannot be faulted that is why it final. They are infallible they cannot be faulted.

The second leg of the objection is that they have no jurisdiction, because what they are trying to do is to fault the decision. This decision should not have been given because of an earlier decision; you cannot do that because that decision is final. Right or wrong, that decision is final.

“So, the application as you can see was robustly argued on both sides and the matter has now been adjourned, no date fix for that ruling but the court has promised that they will communicate that date to both parties.

Ruling for the case which came up for hearing on Friday before a 5-man reconstituted panel at the court, has been reserved for a later date which would be communicated to both parties by the Court.

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