Enugu: Confusion over Appeal Court’s judgment

Five days after the Court of Appeal, sitting in Lagos, delivered judgment on the conduct of the Enugu State House of Assembly in Nkanu-East during the 2023 general election held on March 18, confusion still abounds as to who is the person declared winner of the appellate court’s judgment.

Both the Labour Party (LP) candidate, Michael Okwy Nnaji, a surveyor, and his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) rival, Okey Mbah, are claiming victory.

It was gathered that five days after the Appeal Court delivered its judgment, none of the parties has been able to obtain a copy, despite assurances by Court of Appeal officials in Enugu, where the case originated, that they would provide the judgment within hours.

According to an Enugu-based legal practitioner who has been both a commissioner in the State and also a State legislator, Chief Lucky Chukwu, explained that, “The judgment was delivered by Zoom on Sunday. The parties, however, did not get the notice early, and that explains why some of the counsel joined five minutes to the end”.

The confusion has been worsened because judgments for the first 41 cases handled by the Court of Appeal in Lagos have been handed over to the relevant parties except those of 36, 37, and 38, which are on the Nkanu-East election.

The LP candidate won at the Election Petitions Tribunal, but the PDP and its candidate, as well as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) appealed against the decision, hence cases 36, 37, and 38.

There are speculations that the appellate court is taking time to avoid a re-enactment of the situation in the Kano State governorship election petition, where the judgment read by the justice is at variance with the written judgment that they signed and gave to lawyers of parties to the case.

The Election Petitions Tribunal, led by Justice Adie Attoe Onyebueke, gave judgment in LP’s favour, affirming there was tremendous overvoting in places like Owo, Governor Peter Mbah’s hometown.

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