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TRIBUNAL DISMISSES OKOYE'S APPLICATION TO STOP OBI'S INAUGURATION

By NBF News
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Tribunal dismisses Okoye's application to stop Obi's inauguration

From GEOFFREY ANYANWU, Awka
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
The Justice Pius Damulak-led five-man Anambra Governorship Election Tribunal sitting in Awka yesterday dismissed for lack of merit the application of the Hope Democratic Party (HDP), seeking to stop Governor Peter Obi's second tenure inauguration tomorrow. The tribunal ruling came despite earlier discontinuance application filed by the counsel to the party and its deputy governorship candidate in the February 6, 2010 election, Chief Mike Okoye on the motion for interlocutory injunction restraining the swearing in of Obi and his deputy, Mr. Emeka Sibeudu.

Okoye had on Saturday evening after the tribunal adjoined to yesterday for ruling on the motion, filed an application to discontinue the motion claiming he was being pressurised by well-meaning Anambrarians to drop the motion.

But at the resumption of sitting yesterday, Okoye announced his intention to discontinue with the motion, stating that the other parties in the matter have agreed with him for the matter to be struck out to allow for the inauguration of the governor.

'After the last sitting, based on the greater interest of Anambra State, we decided to discontinue the motion for injunction restraining the swearing in of Obi. Our application for withdrawal had been served on all the parties and it is my humble submission that the tribunal strikes out the motion,' he said.

Counsel to Obi and his deputy, Mr. Theophine Oguji accepted Okoye's decision but urged the court to not merely strike out the matter but to outrightly dismiss it.

After heated arguments on whether to strike out the matter or to dismiss it, the tribunal in a unanimous ruling read by one of the members, Justice P. O. Ige dismissed the motion without cost.

Ige stated that the tribunal decided to read its ruling in the matter because the parties therein disagreed on the issue.

He further said after citing issues raised by Okoye in his affidavit, that the tribunal has no right to grant the injunction sort by the applicant since the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had already issued Obi with a certificate of return, describing the issue as a completed act that cannot be challenged and hence the dismissal of the matter.

After the ruling, Okoye said that he would in the spirit of understand already reached by the parties not appeal against the ruling of the tribunal.

But reacting to the judgement, APGA's lawyer, Chibunna Okolie Akilika told newsmen that there wasn't any understanding between the parties as claimed by Okoye, stressing that it was necessary for the ruling to be given to avoid future spurious claims by anybody.

Noting that he expected nothing less as the matter had been earlier settled by the Supreme Court, Akilika expressed satisfaction with the ruling, which he said was in accordance with the laid down provisions of the law.

Obi's lawyer on his part said they had to go for the ruling because they wanted to leave no room for insinuations, stressing that Okoye started pushing for withdrawal when he saw he would lose the case.

Also reacting to the ruling, the President of Igbo World Association, Dr. Nwachukwu Anakwenze described Okoye's application as frivolous and aimed at preventing the Anambra people's will as expressed on February 6, 2010, describing the ruling as a precursor of the fate that awaits other petitioners, just as he commended the tribunal.