….Restrains INEC, NASS from Taking Any Steps or Given Effect to Judgment of the Lower Trial Court
By Chris Udochukwu
Abuja (Precise Post) – The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja on Thursday nullified the judgment of a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory that sacked Senator Ifeanyi Ubah as the Senator representing Anambra South Senatorial District at the National Assembly for being a nullity.
A three-man panel of justices of the appellate court held that the judgment delivered by Justice Bello Kawu of the Abuja High Court sitting in Kubwa, was a nullity because the suit was unlawfully instituted because it did not comply with any known law.
Justice Steven Adah, who read the unanimous judgment of the court agreed with Ubah’s counsel, Dr Onyeachi Ikpeazu (SAN) to hold that, the originating summons, upon which the April 11, 2019 judgment of the lower trial court was delivered was not signed by counsel to the plaintiffs according to law.
According to the court, “a document that is not signed is a worthless piece of paper that lacks integrity.”
The court held that failure to sign the originating summons was fatal to the case and the judgment which arose from it was a nullity.
The Appeal Court also held that the Abuja High Court lacked the territorial jurisdiction to entertain the matter as the cause of the legal action arose from the Anambra South Senatorial District election held in Anambra State.
“There are courts in Anambra State to entertain the suit arising from the election. The lower court has no jurisdiction and the decision in that case is a nullity.”
He said Ubah’s suit was not caught up by section 285 of the 1999 Constitution which made it mandatory that an appeal must be lodged within 14 days after judgement was delivered.
Besides, the appellate court said it found no evidence that Ubah was served with any hearing notice before the trial court delivered a judgement against him.
“Any breach of the right of the appellant vitiated the entire proceeding. The right to a fair hearing is very fundamental and very sacrosanct. Once it is breached in a proceeding, every order therefrom amounts to nullity”, the court held.
The court consequently set aside the judgment of the lower court and restrained the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the National Assembly from taking any steps or given effect to the judgment of the lower trial court.