The long drawn battle for Imo North senatorial zeal (Okigwe Senate seat is not yet over and Mr. Frank Ibezim may not be rejoicing as Senator (Sir) Ifeanyi Araraume through his lawyers has written to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue him with a Certificate of Returns (CoR) as per the judgment and order of the Federal High Court for him to represent the people of Okigwe in the senate.
In a Letter dated the 19th day of April 2021, and sent through his Lawyers, Ahmed Raji & Co, Araraume pointed out that the Appeal Court judgment that set aside by the Supreme Court judgment of 16th April, 2021, did not come from the ruling by Hon Justice Taiwo O. Taiwo which was delivered on the 18th day of March, 2021.
The statement reads:
“Although the supreme Court in it’s judgment in Appeal No: SC/183/2021, between Chukwuma Francis Ibezim v Asomugha Tony Ebeleke and 3 ors and Appeal No: SC/182/2021 between APC v Asomugha Tony Ebeleke and 3 ors delivered on the 16th day of April, 2021, set aside the judgment of Court of Appeals, it is imperative to note that the appeals which culminated in the aforesaid Supreme Court judgment did not emanate from the judgment of Hon Justice Taiwo O. Taiwo delivered on the 18th day of March,2021 in a Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/1644/2020 between Senator Ifeanyi Godwin Araraume v INEC & 3 ors”.
They stated further that “Again in its judgment in the aforementioned appeal, the Supreme Court DID NOT in any way or manner declare Chukwuma Francis Ibezim as the candidate of the All Progressive Congress for the Imo North Senatorial bye election of 5th December, 2020. It is absolutely clear that the Supreme Court did not and could not have made any consequential order declaring Chukwuma Francis Ibezim as the candidate of the All Progressive Congress for the bye election because, unlike Senator Godwin Ifeanyi Araraume, the said Chukwuma Francis Ibezim did not take part in all the stages of the Imo North Senatorial bye election of 5th December, 2020 in line with the combined mandatory positions of sections 285(13) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,1999 (Forth Alteration, No. 21) Act 2017 and Sections 141 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).
The legal team argued further that unless a superior court sets aside the subsisting judgment delivered by Hon Taiwo O. Taiwo, INEC had no other option than to comply with the judgment. In their words they said “Put differently, it is imperative to state that unless and until the aforementioned valid and subsisting judgement delivered by Hon Justice Taiwo O. Taiwo is set aside by a superior Court, the Independent National Electoral Commission has no alternative than to comply with the said judgment, as the Supreme Court judgments did not, in any way, set aside the said judgment of Taiwo Taiwo J of the Federal High Court, whether factually or by implication”.
“In consequence of the above, we urge the INEC to immediately comply with the aforesaid extant judgment in SUIT NO: FHC/ABJ/CS/1644/2020 and the orders contained therein, by issuing Form EC8E and a Certificate of Return to our Client, Senator Godwin Ifeanyi Araraume without further delays” they said.
Meanwhile, effort by Ibezim to substitute Araraume’s name from INEC yesterday proved abortive as the appeal court dismissed Ibezim’s Application, meaning that Araraume’s name is still subsisting in INEC and remains a respondent in the Tribunal case with PDP.