INEC Set For PHALGA 3 Bye-Election, ’Morrow …As Court Fails To Stop Process

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Independent National Electoral Commission

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says modalities have been put in place for the conduct of tomorrow’s bye-election for the replacement of the vacant position in the Port Harcourt Constituency 111 in the Rivers State House of Assembly.
Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Rivers State, Obo Efanga, who addressed newsmen at the INEC office in Port Harcourt, yesterday, disclosed that four political parties have been cleared to participate in the bye-election.
He said the political parties include; Democratic Alternative (DA), Mass Movement of Nigeria (MMN), All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The Resident Electoral Commissioner also stated that the smart card reader for the election would capture the number of people accredited to vote, adding that there would be restriction of movement from 8am to 6pm on Election Day.
He also disclosed that sensitive materials for the election were intact and would be distributed later.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner was accompanied by Residents Electoral Commissioners, of Bayelsa, and Akwa Ibom, including party agents to take delivery of the sensitive materials, AC8A, AC8B, AC8C and AC8E, including ballots papers, which were all sealed.
He assured that INEC would not rest in its oars in ensuring the conduct of a free, fair and credible bye-election in the state.
Speaking with The Tide in an interview, the agent of Mass Movement of Nigeria (MMN), Gospel Nwigbara, expressed satisfaction with the electoral process so far, adding that his party was prepared for the election.
Also speaking, the agent for All Progressives Party (APC), Mr. Michael Ogolima urged INEC to ensure a hitch-free poll.
Meanwhile, an All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in the 2015 Legislative Election, Mr. Chima Nnokam has failed in his fresh bid to stop the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from conducting any bye-election to fill the vacant position in the state House of Assembly seat for Port Harcourt Constituency 3.
Nnokam had approached of a Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt to seek an order of the court to stop tomorrow’s bye-election in the constituency pending the determination of the originating suit in the court.
The plaintiff is also praying the court to order INEC to issue him certificate of return having come second position during the 2015 legislative election in the constituency since INEC failed to conduct the bye-election within 30 days when the seat became vacant as provided for in the Electoral Act (as amended).
According to him, failure to issue him with certificate of return by the INEC after the expiration of the 30 days would amount the disregard of the provisions of the law.
However, the trial judge, Justice H.I.O. Osohmah, in his ruling on the motion bordering on jurisdiction by INEC and Peoples Democratic Party, refused to give any interlocutory injunction stopping INEC from ing the bye-election for PHALGA Constituency 111 Legislative Election, tomorrow.
Justice Osohmah, in his short ruling, told the parties that when an application challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain and hear a matter is before the court, he was under obligation to first settle the issue of jurisdiction before proceeding to other issues.
He, however, said the court would hear the application referred to it by the Appeal Court on the next adjourned date.
Speaking to journalists after the ruling, counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Don Omealo (SAN) expressed happiness with the court position, adding that INEC does not have any legal constrain in conducting Saturday’s Bye-Election in PHALGA 3 State Constituency Election.
According to him, “the court refused the interlocutory injunction as sought by the claimant,” adding that his client was free to go ahead with the election as scheduled.
However, counsel to the plaintiff in the matter, Eugene Odey (Esq) said he was dissatisfy with the decision of the court but, however, said, he would brief his client on the next line of action.
Odey said it was a known fact in law that when an issue bordering on referral from a higher court to a lower one, the law mandates the lower court to, as a matter of urgency, hear the application, adding that the Judge in his wisdom, acted otherwise.
It would be recalled that the plaintiff, Mr. Chima Nnokam had contested the PHALGA 3 Constituency Legislative Election under the platform of the APC and came second after the PDP candidate, Hon. Victor Ihunwo, who had since vacated the seat following his victory and subsequent position as Mayor of Port Harcourt.
APC has, however, fielded another candidate, Mr. Worlu Dickson, who would contest with other three candidates from other political parties as announced by the INEC.

 

Taneh Beemene & Susan Serekara-Nwikhana