Election Petition Tribunal: Senators in last minutes legal battle to keep their seats

September 22nd, 2019

COSMAS EKPUNOBI reports that an estimated 75% of the 9th Assembly senators are currently engulfed in legal battles to keep their seats at the red chambers, after been declared winners by the Independent National Election (INEC), at the February 23 National Assembly polls

Certainly this is not the best of season for most senators of the 9th National Assembly . Estimated 75 percent of the 109 serving senators are still battling with either pre or post elections matters pending before a court or tribunal as the case may be .

While few of the embattled lawmakers may have survived the first hurdle at the various election tribunals across the country, majority still have their fate hanging in the balance, while few others have had their elections upturned so far by the National and State Assembly election tribunals . While some have their election out-rightly cancelled, others were simply asked to return home for a rerun or supplementary election as the case may be.

Expectedly, the few lawmakers whose election have been upturned by the tribunal have either already filled an Appeal or about to do so.

Interestingly, the Appeal court is the final bus stop for every National and State Assembly post election matters. However, any lawmaker who loses at the Appeal court can still approach the Supreme Court in the case of pre election matters only. A few of them may be warming up for this marathon legal race. As in the tradition of every political season, the final list of casualties will be known early next year when this seemingly season of legal battle is expected to wind.

The statusquo for now remains, but definitely a few may be thrown back to the unemployment market at the end of the day, even as analysts say it might be too early in the day to determine who will remain or go in the 9th Senate.

Unfortunately, many of them whose fate are yet to be decided by the court may not have the right frame of mind to function optimally on the floor of the Senate. With their one leg in and one leg out of the Senate, some would be spending more time at home oiling their political arsenals in the event there’s a rerun election.

This suggests that legislative activities of the 9th Senate may suffer for some time before it picks up optimally, when they final judgement of the various tribunals as well as appeals are made.

It’s also worrisome at this time, as some of them may be grappling with repayment of the huge bank loans sourced last year to finance their election campaigns, with reports that the banks are after some of the Senators to either service the loans or repay such cash as in a term as may have agreed with their banks.

Some who still see the National Assembly as honey pots were reported to have obtained the said loans on the condition to repay such in the first few months. Unfortunately, the cash pot seems to be drying up by the day. Again, the anti graft agencies of government appear to be ready to beam their searchlight on the finances of the National Assembly. It’s no longer business as usual for now but time will tell.

Though it may be too early by the day for the few senators whose elections have been reaffirmed by the tribunal to roll out the drums in celebration, but others saw their victory as a major leap going by how powerful their opponent or how bad their cases are.

So far in the list of victory for some of the senators at the tribunal, the National and State Assembly election tribunal sitting in Enugu reaffirmed the election of former deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu. A prominent sports philanthropist, Senator Ifeanyi Ubah in the same manner floored the two Uba brothers , Senator Andy Uba and Chief Chris Uba to remain as the senator representing Anambra South in the National Assembly.

The Elections Petition Tribunal sitting in Awka declared Senator Ifeanyi Ubah as the lawfully elected senator.

Senator Uche Ekwunife also defeated the ex national chairman of APGA, Chief Victor Umeh to remain in the Senate seat for Anambra Central. \

However, former Abia state governor, Orji Uzor Kalu leads the list of casualties at the tribunal, when his election as Senator representing Abia North was cancelled .

The National and state Assembly Election Tribunal, sitting in Umuahia, Abia state capital, ordered a supplementary elections in some parts of Abia North . The ruling followed a petition filed by the PDP candidate, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa, alleging irregularities in the election.

Also, a ranking Senator, James Manager’s election suffered similar fate as the tribunal ordered a rerun election for Delta South . The ruling followed a petition filed by former governor of the state Emmanuel Uduagha of the APC. The fate of Senator Manager, the most ranking senator is now hanging in the balance. In the same vein, the incumbent spokesman of the Senate, Senator Adedayo Adeyeye (APC), is worst hit so far as the Tribunal, sitting in Ekiti state did not only cancel his election but has ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC to withdraw the certificate return issued to him and hand over same to Senator Biodun Olujimi of PDP. Senator Adeyeye was said to have ran to Appeal court to remain politically afloat. Senator Dino Maleye (PDP), is one leg in and one leg out as the tribunal sitting in Lokoja, Kogi state capital upturned his election and ordered for a fresh election for Kogi East within 90 days . The ruling followed a petition by Senator Smart Adeyemi of the APC.

Others on the victory list at the tribunal include Senators Enyinnaya Abaribe, Theordore Orji Oluremi Tinubu, Abdulahi Sabi, Wammako of Sokoto state , Adbdulahi Adamu, the deputy Senate president, Senator Ovie OmoAgege, Senators Rochas Okorocha, and Ben Uwajimogu.

There may be more casualties during the week as the various tribunal across the country appear to have been reminded of the deadline to dispense all such petitions pending before them. And until this is done, every senator whose election is still being challenged at either the tribunal or court may need not to roll out the drum in celebration.

Again, not much could also be expected from the Senator Ahmad Lawan 9th Senate, until a time, when the senators will be out of court and concentrate on the challenges of making laws. It is obvious that the Senators and their zeal to work for full representation of their constituencies will only return fully when they out of danger. The season is not strange in our political history, as the first year of any new government is characterised by such legal gymnastics.

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