NASS election: Court sacks Delta senator-elect, Nwaoboshi

JUSTICE Ahmed Mohammed of a Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday sacked the Senator-elect representing Delta North Senatorial District, Peter Nwaoboshi.

The judge held in the judgment that Nwaoboshi who is a serving senator was not the winner of the October 2, 2018 Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) primary election held to select a candidate for the 2019 general election.

Justice Mohammed subsequently ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to publish the name of Ned Nwoko as the candidate of the PDP, having established the fact that Nwoko scored the majority of the lawful votes at the primary election.

The court also ordered Nwaoboshi to stop parading himself as the candidate of the PDP for the senatorial zone.

Nwoko through his counsel Ahmed Raji (SAN), had dragged INEC, PDP and the sacked senator before the court praying for an order to stop INEC from publishing or further publishing the name of Senator Nwaoboshi as the candidate for Delta North Senatorial District.

Nwoko also asked for another order compelling the PDP to forward his name to INEC as the authentic candidate of the party for the senatorial district in the 2019 general election.

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The plaintiff who predicated his suit on seven grounds which was supported by a 20 paragraph affidavit evidence and five exhibits, claimed that he was screened and cleared for the Delta North Senatorial District by the PDP Electoral Committee.

He claimed among others that at the end of the primary election he scored 453 votes to defeat his closest rival, Peter Nwaoboshi who scored 405 while Paul Osaji came third with 216 votes.

Nwoko, however, claimed that to his surprise, the PDP jettisoned the result of the primary election and forwarded Nwaoboshi’s name as its candidate for the Senatorial District.

He disclosed that all efforts to redress the injustice through the party’s appeal panel were unsuccessful.

In their defence, the respondents attacked the suit of the plaintiff on the grounds that it was statute barred since it was not filed within the 14 days provided for by law.

They also claimed that the suit constituted an abuse of court process since the plaintiff had earlier filed a similar suit at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court which was struck out.

But, Justice Mohammed, in his judgement held that the case of the plaintiff was not statute barred and did not also amount to forum shopping.

According to Justice Mohammed, the plaintiff’s case is not against the conduct of October 2, 2018, primary but the continuous display of the name of the third defendant (Nwaoboshi) as the candidate of the PDP for the senatorial zone for the purpose of the 2019 general election.

Justice Mohammed said he was satisfied with the Certified True Copies (CTC) of the ballot papers used for the primary election and made available to the court by the plaintiff to establish his case.

The judge observed that the PDP, though disputed the claims of Nwoko on the ballot papers, he said the same PDP, however, failed to produce ballot papers used for the election when ordered to do so in December 2018.

Subsequently, Justice Mohammed having held that the plaintiff has established that he is the winner of the October 2, 2018 primary is entitled to his claim and consequently granted the relief sought by Nwoko.

The court earlier dismissed preliminary objections filed by the defendants including that on jurisdiction.

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