House Of Reps Member Loses Seat
The member representing Onitsha North/South Federal Constituency of Anambra State in the House of Representatives, Hon. Godwin Idu, has lost his seat.
Idu, a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) member, was ordered to vacate the seat by a Federal High Court on Thursday.
Presiding judge, Justice Adeniyi Ademola, who gave the order, also cancelled the certificate of return which the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) issued to Idu as the winner of the March 28, 2015 election for the Onitsha North/South Federal Constituency seat in the House of Representatives.
Justice Ademola, who gave the order while ruling on a suit challenging the submission of Idu's name to the INEC as the candidate of the PDP for the election, also ordered that the plaintiff in the suit, Lynda Chuba-Okadigbo, should be sworn in Idu's place.
Recall that Chuba-Ikpeazu had filed the suit which predated the March 28, 2015 election, on March 18, 2015, to challenge the substitution of her name earlier submitted to INEC as the winner of the PDP's primary, with that of Idu.
Listed ad defendants in the suit are the PDP, INEC, the National Working Committee of the PDP and Idu. However, INEC did not file any defence in the suit filed through the plaintiff's counsel, Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN).
While directing INEC to issue a fresh certificate of return to Chuba-Ikpeazu, the presiding judge ordered the Speaker and the Clerk of the National Assembly to immediately swear in Chuba-Ikpeazu as replacement for Idu .
In granting all the prayers sought by the plaintiff, Justice Ademola held that the substitution of her name with that of Idu violated the provisions of sections 31(2)(j) and 50 of the PDP constitution; sections 31(1)(2) and 33 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended); section 222(c)of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Article 25 (xii) of the Electoral Guidelines for Primary Elections, 2014 of the PDP.
He also dismissed the argument of the Idu's lawyer, Alex Izinyon (SAN), that court had no jurisdiction over the case since it was a pre-election matter that could only be entertained by a state High Court.
The presiding judge then granted four ancillary orders “to meet the justice of the case and give effect to the court's judgment.”
In his ruling, the presiding judge said: “The plaintiff, Honourable Lynda Chuba-Ikpeazu, is hereby declared as the 1st defendant's (PDP's) candidate for the House of Representatives with regard to the Onitsha North/South Federal Constituency.
“It is also declared that the plaintiff, Honourable Lynda Chuba-Ikpeazu, is the honourable member representing Onitsha North/South Federal Constituency in the Federal House of Representatives for this session.
“The 4th defendant, Godwin Emeka Idu, is ordered to vacate that seat in the Federal House of Representatives whilst the certificate of return issued to him is hereby cancelled.
“The 2nd defendant, INEC, is hereby ordered to issue certificate of return to Honourable the rightful member representing Onitsha North/South in the House of Representatives.
“Finally, the Honourable Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Clerk of the National Assembly are ordered to swear in Honourable Lynda Chuba Ikpeazu as member representing Onitsha North/South Federal Constituency in the Federal House of Representatives forthwith.”
While upholding the plaintiff's argument that the PDP having earlier submitted her name to the INEC as its candidate for the House of Representatives election, Justice Ademola said the party lacked the power to later replace her name with that of Idu.
According to him, under the law, such substitution could only be valid only on the conditions that the candidate whose name was earlier submitted to INEC died or decided to withdraw from the race.
“The 1st defendant (the PDP) cannot lawfully sponsor a candidate other than the plaintiff (Chuba-Ikpeazu) whose nomination was confirmed and approved by the 3rd defendant (the National Working Committee of the PDP) in its meeting of Wednesday, December 17, 2014.
“The decision of the 3rd defendant (NWC of the PDP) acting on behalf of the National Executive Committee after full review of reports of the primary election for the candidate of 1st defendant (PDP) for the Onitsha North/South Federal Constituency for the 2015 general election to the effect that the plaintiff (Chuba-Ikpeazu) is the candidate who emerged is final and binding on all aspirants, officers and organs of the 1st defendant.
“The second defendant cannot accept and publish any other name after having received the nomination forms and INEC Form CF00 (Affidavit in support of Personal Particulars) of all the 1st defendant's candidates for the 2015 general election for House of Representatives to which were attached the names of all the candidates including the plaintiff,” the judge held.