Civil Society Group, Imo Liberation Movement (ILM) has described as a travesty of justice the nullification of election of Hon. Jonas Okeke of the Ehime-Mbano/Ihitte-Uboma/Obowo federal constituency (Okigwe South) of Imo State in favor of Hon Chike Okafor of the All Progressive Congress (APC).
The justices of the Appeal Court had asserted that the appellant in the suit Hon. Okeke was not qualified to contest the said election based on the primary election of the party held outside the constituency which was clearly a pre-election matter.
The nullification of the people’s mandate to Hon. Okeke of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) according to ILM was a misnomer committed by Justices Abraham Georgewill, B. Aliyu and F. Ojo of the Appeal Court sitting in Lagos State.
The Imo based crusaders, the constituents and Nigerians home and abroad had condemned the judiciary for failure to ensure that justice and fairness prevailed in the Nigerian political space.
The Okigwe Zonal Coordinator of the group, Chuks Obiodu, said the learned justices by the said judgement have thwarted the mandate of the people having departing from existing precedents established by superior court of record (the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal) that had clearly started that sponsorship and nomination of a candidate by a political party is a pre-election matter, domestic affair of the party which cannot be adjudicated at the Tribunal as it lacks jurisdiction to entertain such.
Regretted that Chike Okafor and other contestants to the seat however admitted that PDP sponsored Hon. Jonas Okeke, as such the issue of his sponsorship can no longer be challenged by interlopers, neither could it be determined by the appeal Tribunal.
This perversion of justice the group said had totally contradicted the common law principle of “stare decisis”, which states that when a particular point of law is decided by superior courts, all future cases containing the same facts and circumstances must be bound by that decision.
The release read, “It’s disheartening that Okeke will be singled out for victimisation when the same court, same prayers, issues and facts, upheld the election of Hon Emeka Chinedu of Ahiazu/ Ezinihitte Mbaise federal constituency and Hon Imo Ikenga Ugochinyere of Ideato North/South.”
These candidates the group argued were also of same PDP, and participated in the same PDP primaries that the APC candidates challenged. So, what really necessitated this miscarriage of justice, they asked.
It continued, “There was no other known ground in the matter upon which the judges relied on to murder justice and democracy as there has never been any civil or criminal charge against Hon. Okeke in any known court in the land or overseas.
“He won the said election squarely regardless of efforts by the APC government in Imo state to deny him victory.
“Worst still, the judges till this day have refused to release Certified True Copy (CTC) of the mockery of judgment delivered on the 4th November, 2023 which Okeke applied for on the 6th of the same month.
“Whereas the same court and judges have since 8th November, 2023 signed orders of the judgment which Chike Okafor has used to approach the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to obtain Certificate of Return (CoR). It’s laughable that the judgement from which it emanates from is not yet ready, the expressed.
“By this particular development, one wonders whether the learned Justices think about the effect of their actions on the image of the country.
“We make bold to say that the decision by the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, to transfer all election petition cases pending before the various divisions of the court to Abuja and Lagos to enable her have a closer and painstaking monitoring of the judges has been defeated.
“Fully aware that the Tribunal serves as the final court in this matter, we therefore, call on the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, to direct the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Dongban-Mensem to immediately set up a review panel to look into the judgment and circumstances that birthed this grave injustice by those entrusted with the power to deliver justice without fear or favour.”