Supreme Court removes House of Reps member
The Supreme Court has removed Sopuluchukwu Ezeonwuka of the Peoples Democratic Party from representing Orumba North /South , Anambra Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives.
Justice Kudirat Kekere – Ekun gave the ruling in an appeal filed against Ezeonwuka ’ s election by a member of the party , Chief Ben- Nwankwo, in Abuja on Friday.
Nwankwo’ s name was wrongly substituted with the first respondent ( Ezeonwuka ) after he had obtained the nomination of the party to contest the National Assembly election.
Dissatisfied with the Feb . 20 , 2015 judgment of the Federal High Court in Abuja and the decision of the Court Appeal to uphold it , Nwankwo approached the apex court .
“ Conclusion : having resolved the key issues in favour of the appellant , the appeal succeeds and it is hereby allowed.
“ The judgment of the Court of Appeal delivered on June 26 , 2016 , is hereby set aside for being a nullity having exceeded its jurisdiction by granting relief not sought by the parties before it.
“ This follows that the judgment of the Federal High Court , Abuja, delivered on Feb . 20 , 2015 was delivered without jurisdiction and it’ s a nullity . It is equally set aside .
“ The Originating Summons filed on Dec . 15 , 2014 in FHC /Abj / CS /1013 /2014 is hereby struck out ’’ , she said .
Justice Kekere – Ekun further held that : “ the consequence of the above order is that the parties shall revert to the status quo ante .
“ The existing position before the first respondent (Ezeonwuka ) filed a suit at the trial court was that not only was the appellant ’ s name submitted to INEC for the March 28 , 2015 , election, he won the election.
“ It was at the point of being issued the Certificate of Return that he was confronted by a letter conveying the order of the trial court stopping that action .
“ In the circumstances, it is hereby ordered that the appellant , Chief Ben Nwankwo, being the candidate duly sponsored by the PDP in that election is entitled to be issued with the certificate of return .
“ The second respondent is hereby ordered to issue Chief Nwankwo a certificate of return in respect of the National Assembly election held March 28 , 2015 , forthwith , ” she said .
The judge also further said : “ the first respondent (Ezeonwuka ) is hereby ordered to vacate the seat of the Orumba North /South Federal Constituency of Anambra State in the National Assembly forthwith ’’ .
“ It is further ordered that Ezeonwuka shall refund to the National Assembly all monies collected by him by way of salaries and allowances since he took the seat within 90 days .
“ And finally, a fine of N 500 , 000 is awarded in favour of the appellant against the first respondent , ” the judge held.
The appellant had asked the court to decide whether the lower court had jurisdiction to deliver judgment dated June 26 , 2015 , without considering and determining pending motion on notice dated June 18 , 2015 .
The appellant had in that motion sought permission of the court to appeal against the judgment of the trial court as an interested party .
He also urged the court to decide whether the court below was entitled to determine who should be the sponsored candidate of the party .