CONFUSION IN SENATE OVER ANAMBRA NORTH
The controversy surrounding the actual winner of the Anambra North Senatorial District between Senator Joy Emordi and her opponent in the 2007 election, Mr. Alphonsus Ugbeke took the centre stage on Tuesday following a court motion on notice presented to the Senate by Senator Joy Emordi seeking for the interpretation of the two judgments of the Court of Appeal on the case.
Upon receipt of the court papers, Clerk of the Senate, Mr. Ben Efeture, who was billed to swear in Mr. Ugbeke, had to quietly tell him that Senator Emordi was still occupying her seat in the Senate thus he was not in a position to create a situation in which two senators from one senatorial district would be in the Senate.
In the motion on notice before the Court of Appeal in the Enugu Division, Senator Emordi is seeking an order setting aside, ex debito justiciae, the judgment of the Court in Appeal No: CA/E/EPT/04/2009 delivered on March 25, 2010 for being a nullity or alternatively review or interpret the judgment of the appeal.
However, Mr. Alphonsus Ugbeke told journalists at a press conference at the National Assembly that the matter was strictly a constitutional matter, adding that the Court of Appeal in Enugu on March 25, through a unanimous judgment declared him as the person who scored the majority of lawful votes cast at the 2007 election.
He explained that he ought to have been sworn in having being declared the winner, adding that his opponent Senator Emordi upon hearing of the judgment accepted it as being okay since the last court had ruled on the matter but after a week or two, went to file a process in Court of Appeal, Enugu and later withdrew it.
According to Ugbeke, 'she wrote the court personally, I have copy for discontinuance. Then subsequently too she went to Federal High Court, Abuja here and filed another action seeking for an interpretation and on the 12th of this month, she went back to Court of Appeal again also for the same interpretation. In all these actions, she has her motion seeking for perpetual injunction restraining me from presenting myself to the Clerk of the Senate for the purpose of swearing in and also restraining the Clerk and the Senate president from swearing me in.'
He explained that of the cases, no court has given Senator Emordi an injunction owing to the fact that she lacked the jurisdiction to raise such injunction she is seeking for stressing that it was upon such premise that he went to the Senate for the purposes of swearing in but to his greatest shock, he learnt that Senator Emordi who was sacked by the Court of Appeal in Enugu was in the chamber sitting in spite of the order of the Court of Appeal.
'As I am talking to you, there is no other order rather than that one given on March 25 neither is there a stay of execution or injunction.
There is nothing that warranted her going back to occupy her former seat in the Senate giving her legal background. It is shocking, it's a surprise, I can't believe this, I can't believe this but I was surprise when the Clerk came in to tell me that my opponent is right there in the chamber sitting,' Ugbeke said.
He said while he would further pursue and seek legal advice, he would still appear at the Senate today, stressing that since he has been issued with INEC certificate of return in addition to forwarding his asset declaration to the Clerk, it is left for the Clerk of the Senate to put the necessary machinery in place for the purposes of swearing in.
'That would not stop me from coming here tomorrow (Wednesday). Tomorrow I am coming back again; next tomorrow I will be back until the right thing is done. The body that has the constitutional power to make me a Senator has already done that and INEC being the umpire that conducted the election subsequently had issued me a certificate of return, what that implies is that her own certificate of return had already beeg withdrawn and nullified. If she is going for an interpretation as she claimed, no court has interpreted it so there is a subsisting order,' Ugbeke said.
Meanwhile, the Senate leadership has said its refusal to swear in Ugbeke was in keeping with its rules not to interfere in any matter before the court in order not to temper with the court ruling.
Senate spokesman, Senator Ayogu Eze, told Senate correspondents at a press conference that the Senate would be failing in its responsibility as a law making body if it went ahead to take a position on a matter pending before a court.
Senator Eze explained that the Senate was served a copy of court process by Senator Emordi seeking interpretation of the court over the two judgments it delivered, adding that the Senate is being careful not to be seen as moving forward and backward at the same time over the same matter.
According to Senator Eze, 'the reality is that there is a court process and as a Senate, we don't want to interfere with any court process. The Senate rules over court matters are very clear. Once all the issues are resolved by the court, the Senate would abide by the decision.'