The Court of Appeal in Abuja, on Thursday, affirmed the election of Ifeanyi Ubah of the Young Progressive Party (YPP), as the senator representing Anambra South.
Justice Bello Kawu of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) high court in Kubwa, Abuja, had, on January 17, nullified the election of Mr Ubah as the senator representing Anambra South.
In the judgement on January 17, the court also ordered the nation’s electoral body, INEC, to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Mr Ubah and to issue a fresh certificate to the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Obinna Uzoh – who came second in the election, as the senator-elect of the district.
Not satisfied with the lower court’s decision, Mr Ubah approached the appellate court to set aside the judgement which he insisted was a grave miscarriage of justice against him.
The lawmaker through his lawyer, Onyechi Ikpeazu, argued that as of the time the judgment in suit No: FCT/HC/CV/3044/2018 was delivered, the suit was not properly filed before the court and that consequently, “the entire proceedings and the judgment emanating therefrom are manifestly incompetent being a nullity”.
Mr Ubah contended that the originating summons was not signed by any counsel as required by law.
The lawmaker also insisted that he was denied fair hearing by the trial court.
Delivering judgment in Mr Ubah’s appeal on Thursday, the three member-panel of the appellate court in a unanimous decision led by Justice Stephen Adah, held that the lower court had no jurisdiction to have entertained the matter.
The failure to refuse the matter made the lower court’s decision, void.
“That is what the court ought to have done when approached,” the court held.
Justice Adah also held that the law makes it mandatory for a legal practitioner to sign an originating summons before it is issued out.
He said: “A document that is not signed is a worthless piece of paper and has no credibility.”
He also agreed that the right of the appellant to fair hearing was breached by the trial court.
“Right to fair hearing is very fundamental and anything done afterwards results to a nullity,” he said.
“The judgment of the lower court is a nullity and is hereby set aside.”
Justice Adah, in the lead judgment, then held that, “the appeal of the appellant has merit and it is hereby, allowed.”
The appellate court further awarded the cost of N250,000 each against the plaintiff that filed the suit at the lower court, Anani Chuka and the PDP senatorial candidate, Mr Uzoh.