BREAKING: Imo North Bye-election: Ararume, Ibezim Know Fate March 16

…. Lawyers Makes Case For Clients But Judge Insists He Is Bound By Judgements Of Appeal,Apex Courts

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has adjourned to March 16 to deliver a judgement that will decide who claims the victory of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the December 5 Imo North senatorial bye-election.

Senator Ifeanyi Araraume and Chukwuma Ibezim, both of APC, have been locking horns in a legal battle over who should be returned as the party’s candidate by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

At today’s sitting, the trial judge, Justice Taiwo Taiwo noted that his verdict would be based on earlier judgements of the Appeal Court and Supreme Court.

Recall that Ararume had dragged INEC before the court, seeking an order compelling the Commission to issue him certificate of return as the valid candidate of the APC in the Imo North senatorial bye-election.

The Commission had declared the party as the winner of the election but refused to name a candidate due to different court verdicts against the two aspirants.

THE WHISTLER had reported that the Supreme Court had dismissed Ararume’s application against Ibezim, adding that Ibezim (an APC contestant and first respondent in the case), was not granted fair hearing by a trial court which ruled against him.

Also, the Appeal Court, Abuja had also affirmed the Justice Inyang Ekwo’s disqualification of Ibezim over inconsistent information in the school certificate he tendered to INEC and APC; this was after the lawyers had agreed that the apex court’s judgement had no bearing on its verdict.

But Justice Taiwo, on February 9, told the lawyers to submit the separate judgements for his perusal.

At the resumed sitting on Tuesday, Ararume’s counsel, Ahmed Raji SAN, argued that following the Appeal Court’s (Abuja) decision, Ibezim cannot claim to be APC’s candidate.

He also contended that the Supreme Court made no decision on qualification or disqualification.

“My lord, the two judgements of the Court of Appeal conclusively disqualified Ibezim (the third Defendant) in this matter, therefore we have three conconcurrent findings of the trial court and the two court of Appeal judgement, disqualifying Ibezim; meaning that the third defendant cannot be an aspirant or a candidate which was why we did not join him before he forced his way into this matter.

“There is no way a trial court can make an order in favor of a disqualified person and the second defendant (APC) is not allowed by law to put forward a disqualified person,” he said.

He further added that “regarding the Supreme Court judgment, I submit that they are not relevant to this matter; the narrow point in that matter is that no relief can be granted against a non-party (Ibezim) to a suit.

“Supreme court never talked about disqualification or qualifications; more so, the Appeal Court judgement came having been aware of the apex court judgement.

“I urge the court to be bound by the Court of Appeal judgement because it is relevant to the issue in this matter, and not the Supreme Court judgement.

“Grant the reliefs of the plaintiff because he is the candidate of the second defendant in the election under reference…,” he said.

But the APC counsel objected, saying that even though all parties are bound to follow the decision of the judgement of the Appeal Court and Supreme Court under review, the apex court verdict has an effect on Ararume too.

But the APC did not comment on the FCT Appeal Court judgment on Ibezim’s disqualification.

On her part, Ibezim’s counsel, Mrs. O. Daudu, told the judge that the matter was predicated on the judgement of the Federal High Court, Owerri (in Ararume’s favor) which had been nullified by the Supreme Court on the 5th day of February 2021.

“Can the plaintiff enforce judgement that has been nullified by the Supreme Court?” she asked, adding that, “If the question is not answered in the affirmative, I urge my lord to dismiss the plaintiff’s suit as he has no locus in this matter before your lordship.”

But the judge asked her to interpret the meaning of the Appeal Court judgement on her client (Ibezim), but she failed to respond.

Also, Ararume’s counsel countered her and alleged that “our suit is based on the trial court judgement of Justice Inyang Ekwo,” not that of Owerri.

After hearing them out, Justice Taiwo said he would deliver judgment on the suit on March 16.

“What we have to do now is to adjourn for judgement… let’s go for 16 of March ,2021,” he said.