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EXCLUSIVE… Leaked document shows that INEC may court trouble over Anambra Central rerun

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) may be courting legal trouble, if it goes ahead with its decision to conduct the rerun election for Anambra Central senatorial district.

A legal advisory document exclusively obtained by Ripples Nigeria, shows that the commission may have acted against the advice of its legal team, and fixed the election for Anambra central senatorial election for January 13, 2017.

In the document, a legal adviser to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN) wrote the commission asking it to respect the order of the Federal High Court, Abuja which ordered it to give a certificate of return to Dr. Obiora Okonkwo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

INEC has however refused to obey the court order.

Anambra State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) Dr Nkwachkwu Orji had insisted, on Thursday that the commission would go ahead with the conduct of the re-run, which it earlier scheduled for January 13, 2018.

The REC said: “We are going ahead with the election as scheduled. We have started training adhoc personnel in that respect.

“Our legal department has asked us to go ahead and obey the Court of Appeal order against the Federal High Court judgment. So, we are going ahead to conduct the election on January 13.”

But the submission from Awomolo suggests that the commission may be leaving itself open to more legal battles, if it goes ahead to conduct the rerun election, as it was a party to the consent judgment of the High Court, which he said is not subject to appeal.

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In the legal opinion personally signed by Awomolo SAN, dated December 20, 2017 and received at the Office of the INEC chairman on December 21, 2017, Awomolo advised the commission to “obey the order granted in the judgment of Hon. Justice Tsoho delivered on the 13th day of December, 2017 because it relates to pre-election case which is given priority in electoral matters and it is a consent judgment binding on all parties”.

According to the legal opinion, INEC’s Director of Legal Services had met with Asiwaju Awomolo (SAN) on the evening on December 20th, 2017 “with a view to guiding the commission in the way forward”.

Awomolo in his legal opinion wrote: “There is no right of appeal against a consent judgment by the federal High Court, and the Court of Appeal expressly prohibits it.

“It is very important to note that the undertaken of learned counsel for the commission carries very serious weight and legal consequences, even for the integrity of the commission. He may, have however, given the undertaken in good faith, but the Commission deserves to be notified by learned counsel.

“We suggest an application may be made to the Hon. Justice Tsoho to consider a review of the judgment and the orders”.

He advised, that “the options open to the commission are as follows:

1. Obey the order granted in the judgment of Hon. Justice john Tsoho delivered on the 13th Day of December 2017 because it relates to pre-election case which is given priority in election related matters and it is a consent judgment binding on all parties.

2. Apply that the judgment be varied, in view of the subsistence of these 3 orders of the Court of Appeal, directing the commission to conduct fresh election, as the judgment in this case contradict the decisions of a superior court; the Court of Appeal”.

 

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