By Brendan Umoren
The Abuja division of the Court of Appeal has thrown out an appeal challenging the election of former Enugu state governor Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani as Senator representing Enugu East Senatorial district.
The dismissed appeal was filed by Prince Lawrence Ezeh of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who had approached the appellate court to set aside the judgement of Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court which went in favour of Dr. Nnamani.
The suit specifically prayed the court to disqualify Nnamani as the validly nominated candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over alleged irregularities in the signing of his nomination form.
In a unanimous judgment delivered on Wednesday, the appellate court agreed with the earlier decision of Justice Ekwo which dismissed the original suit for lacking in merit and being statute-barred.
Justice Mohammed Idris who read the judgment of the three-man panel of the appellate court agreed with the arguments canvassed by counsel to the respondents to the effect that the plaintiff did not initiate the suit within the constitutional period of 14 days after the cause of action had aroused.
The court accordingly, upheld the judgment of Justice Ekwo of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court. Consequently, the appeal was dismissed for lacking in merit.
While arguing the appeal, counsel to the appellant, Dr. Frank Ikpe had submitted that the matter was not statute-barred and that the lower court erred in law not to have proceeded to the merits of the claim.
However, counsel Nnamani, Obinna Onyia, who stood in for Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, in opposing the appeal argued that the originating summons was not brought in compliance with Section 285(9) of the constitution (as amended).
Also, counsel to the PDP, Tobechukwu Nweke urged the appellate court to dismiss the appeal as being frivolous and lacking in merit.
It will be recalled that the Court of Appeal, Enugu Division, had on Monday, June 14, 2019, had equally dismissed an appeal by the former senator representing Enugu East Senatorial District, Prince Gilbert Nnaji, seeking to unseat Senator Nnamani based on a similar premise.
The appellate court had in a unanimous decision resolved the issues for determination in favour of Nnamani and his party, the PDP, agreeing with the April 5, 2019 judgment of Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court sitting in Enugu that the original suit was filed outside the 14-day period allowed by law from the date of the occurrence of the event.
The appellate court had therefore dismissed the appeal as being statute-barred and lacking in merit.