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Ngige: No Vacancy in Awka Govt House... Files appeal against tribunal judgment • PDP reacts

Posted by From Charles Onyekamuo in Awka and Funmi Peter-Omale in Abuja on 2005/08/17 | Views: 388 |

Ngige: No Vacancy in Awka Govt House... Files appeal against tribunal judgment • PDP reacts


Governor Chris Ngige of Anambra State yesterday said there is "no vacancy yet in the Government House."

Governor Chris Ngige of Anambra State yesterday said there is "no vacancy yet in the Government House."

Ngige made the statement while addressing a crowd that pressed forward to catch a glimpse of him at the weekend during an inspection tour of a road construction project at Nkpor, near Onitsha.

He described the election tribunal verdict which last Friday, declared Mr Peter Obi of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) winner of the 2003 gubernatorial election as "a verdict of man, not of God.''

Assuring the people of greater things to come, Ngige said his administration had been people-oriented.

He warned against the consequences to anyone, who played God and added that "God will deal with such a person''.
A cheering crowd nearly "mobbed" the governor during the inspection tour of the road projects in Onitsha.

When Ngige’s motorcade arrived at Nkpor junction, two kilometers to Onitsha, the entire business community could not control their emotion as they ran after his car, showering praises on him.

The crowd thereafter, barricaded his car insisting that he should address them before leaving.

Some of the people in symbolic show of solidarity tore into shreds copies of newspapers carrying stories of the tribunal judgment while also pledging their support for the governor.

Ngige, who, later stepped out of his car, told the jubilant crowd to remain calm, law-abiding and prayerful over the unfolding events in the state.
He reassured them that his lawyers had appealed against the judgment and that he had left everything for God to decide.

Ngige in his appeal urged the court to make an order striking out the petition filed by APGA candidate for lack of jurisdiction or dismiss it outrightly.
He is also asking the court to allow the appeal and for such order or further orders it may deem fit to make in the circumstances.

In a 22-page notice of Appeal signed by his lead counsel, J.H.C Okolo, (SAN), G.N Uwechue (SAN) and Emeka Ngige (SAN), Ngige stated that he was bringing the appeal pursuant to order 3 rule 2, Court of Appeal rules, 2002.

In the 12 grounds of appeal, Ngige said the lower tribunal erred in law when it assumed jurisdiction to entertain the election petition despite the fact that it clearly lacked the jurisdiction to do so.

He said that under Section 285 (2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the election tribunal vested with the jurisdiction to entertain a governorship election petition is “Governorship and Legislative Houses Election Tribunal”, adding that in the instant case, the tribunal that heard and determined the petition was “National Assembly/Governorship and Legislative Election Petition Tribunal.

The lower tribunal which heard the case, he said, is non-existent, unknown and unrecognized by the constitution and the Electoral Act, 2000.
He said the tribunal heard and determined the petition with an inconsistent quorum and thereby denied the 1st Respondent/Appellant right to fair hearing as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution.

“Save the Chairman, all other members of the tribunal at one time or the other in the course of the proceedings, absented themselves from the sitting of the tribunal when various witnesses for either the petitioner or the 1st respondent were giving evidence”, he stated.

The tribunal, Ngige said, erred in law when in its judgment it failed to invoke the provisions of Section 133 (2) of the Electoral Act 2002 following the failure of the petitioner to join what he called the statutory necessary parties to the petition.

He objected to the non-joinder of the presiding officer whose results were being challenged. He picked a similar hole against the non-joinder of policemen, soldiers and other security agents involved in the conduct of the election.

In his other grounds of appeal, Ngige said the tribunal erred in law when in its judgment, it held that there were no distinctions between ward and local government “Returning” officers and wards and local government “Collation “ officers in relation to governorship election and that the two are interchangeable.

He also faulted the tribunal’s declaration of Obi as the elected governor of Anambra State in the absence of any evidence of compliance with Sections 60 and 136 (2) of the Electoral Act 2002. He said Obi neither pleaded nor established that he scored 1¼4 of votes cast in the 2/3 council areas of Anambra State.

Ngige faulted the tribunal’s verdict that Obi scored the majority of lawful votes cast at the election and that the petitioner was duly elected. He faulted the tribunal’s use of balance of probability to determine the winner of the election instead of “proof beyond reasonable doubt”.

The other grounds on which Ngige based his appeal included that Obi committed an infraction against the Electoral Act by placing advert in the Vanguard Newspaper of April 17, 2003, that the 1st Respondent did not prove the allegation of tribal and religious politics and inducement of votes thereby occasioning a miscarriage of justice.

However, Mr Chris Ajugwe, secretary-general of the Catholic Lawyers Association, Anambra State, advised Ngige not to appeal against the verdict as he knew he did not win the election.

He said: ``Ngige should quit while the ovation is loudest.
“Really he has surprised all Christians, including myself by his massive road construction and reconstruction, that would make them last up to 25 years.
“I have no doubt, however, that Mr Peter Obi, the actual winner of the 2003 gubernatorial election will continue the good work that Ngige started and may even surpass him," he said.

Ajugwe said in the interest of Anambra people, the Igbo in general, and justice, Ngige should hand over to Obi without much ado.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) last night said it would not contest the judgement.

National Publicity Secretary, Mr. John Odey, said in an interview that as far as the party is concerned, the rule of law was supreme.

"You know its a recent development, as far as we are concerned in the party we will respect the law. We will allow the law to take its cause.

"Ngige is still under suspension (expulsion) from the party, and it's not a question of good riddance. We want the law to take its cause and we will not induce any process at all," he said.
On how the party feels losing Anambra state to another party, he said, "The issue of loss will only arise when there is conclusion. Even if there is a loss of the seat and there is a re-election, the party will also make its position clear, that is field a candidate.."
Ode, said except the state branch of the party requests for an appeal, the National Secretariat will have to abide by the verdict of the election tribunal.

"We will set the process in motion for the PDP NEC to meet and take a decision on the issue."

Odey appealed to members of the PDP in Anambra State to repose confidence in the judiciary. He added that "the party is confident the issue will be resolved and proper verdict will be given. But like Ngige, himself, stated in the (news)papers, it’s not a do or die affair. That is a good message to the people of Anambra State. From what we have read in the papers, I am sure he (Ngige) has confidence in the tribunal and the Court of Appeal"

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.