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Ousted Delta Speaker Reinstated By Supreme Court; Nwaoboshi Wins Too

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ABUJA, Dec 13, (THEWILL) - The Supreme Court today gave an order for the immediate reinstatement of the erstwhile Speaker of the Delta state House of Assembly, Chief Martins Okonta who was removed from office. Okonta went to the Supreme Court asking it to evaluate the decision of the Court of Appeal, which nullified his election.

The Court of Appeal had ruled that Okonta was not properly nominated as candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the 2007 elections, ordering the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue a Certificate of Return to his rival, Mr. Kingsley Philip as the representative of Ika South Constituency.

Not satisfied with the decision unseating him, Okonta went to the Supreme Court, while another member of the House was sworn in as the Speaker.

In a unanimous decision, a five-man panel of Justices led by Justice Olufunlola Olufunke Adekeye agreed with the counsel to the plaintiff’s submission that the suit filed at the trial court, which led to Okonta’s removal was faulty. Consequently, the court set aside the judgment of the Federal High Court and upheld the judgment of the Appeal Court. In the ruling, Adekeye said the refusal of the plaintiff and the court to join Okonta in the suit was as good as breach of his right to fair hearing.

"The decision of the Federal High Court which was upheld by the Court of Appeal and the affirming decision of the appellate court thereof are hereby set aside", she said. Meanwhile, the Federal High Court today in Abuja has ordered INEC to give full recognition to the - Barrister Peter Nwaobashi – led Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Delta.

The court said it was erroneous for INEC not to give full recognition to the Nwaoboshi - led Executive Committee of Delta State chapter of PDP on the basis that it was not properly constituted.

In his judgment, Justice Abdul Kafarati said INEC has no powers under the law to meddle with the internal affairs of the party.

Justice Kafarati ruled that the PDP National Secretariat’s decision on the Delta Congress of February 2008 is “valid, lawful and constitutional.”

The electoral body had rejected the Executive Committees of the PDP in Delta State and seven other states on the contention that their emergence violated mandatory provisions of the Electoral Act, governing how States Executives Committee [SEC] emerged.

Consequently the court ordered INEC to immediately give full recognition to the leadership of PDP as constituted.