BACK TO SQUARE ONE – DORIS UBOH VS NWOKOLO: Case To Be Heard On Merit

Those who thought that the electoral case between Nwokolo and Doris Uboh was over when the tribunal threw out the case earlier, would have to think again.

The National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal, holding at Asaba, has taken a decision to hear the petition brought before it by the immediate past  member of the Federal House of Representatives in Ika Federal Constituency, Hon Doris Uboh, challenging the election of Hon. (Bar.) Victor Nwokolo.

Hon Doris Uboh, who was not satisfied with the election procedures that brought Hon Nwokolo into office had earlier filed a petition at the Election Petition Tribunal, challenging the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The case was however thrown out on the grounds that Hon. Uboh did not present it within the stipulated time frame of the Electoral Acts. She subsequently took her case to the Court of Appeal in Benin-city The Court of Appeal in judgement, remitted the case to the National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal in Asaba to be heard on merit. The reason for the decision to remitte the case to the Election Petition Tribunal in Asaba was however fixed on a later date.
However, as the decision of the Appeal Court in Benin-city filtered into the air, some members of the People Democratic Party (PDD) within the Ika Federal Constituency have started jubilating over the decision, describing it as justice for democracy, it was gathered from some PDP faithful that the election which brought Hon Victor Nwokolo into office was fraught with so much election irregulaties, leading to the cancellation of the results by Returning Officer. The result was later announced about one week after under tight security.
The ruling of the Court of Appeal in Benin-City has threwn many Ika residents into confusion as many of them are yet to understand the nature of the judgement.
A few minutes after the ruling, people particularly, those living in Ika Federal Constituency started receiving text messages in their cell phones that Hon Doris Uboh has won. The text messages came in more than once to the phones of the number of persons in their reach. The publisher and staff of Ika Weekly newspaper were not exempted. The first text reads, “Hon Doris Uboh defeats Victor Nwokolo. The Appeal Court in Benin has ordered a retrial of House of Reps case for Ika Federal Constituency. This is victory for Ika nation. We thank the people and urge everyone not to loose faith. Total victory is ours says the  Lord. God will see us true. Amen.”

The second text, “Your strength is my strength, I felt your pain when our mandate was stolen from us. But your hope and faith in me gave me the strength to fight on.”
In its usual way of nosing around for a  balanced report which objective journalism entails, Ika Weekly through text messages and visits tried to reach both Hon. Doris Uboh and Hon Victor Nwokolo for comments on the judgement. Efforts to get a copy of the judgement from Hon Doris Uboh did not yield result as she was said to have travelled as at the time our reporters visited her house in Agbor on Tuesday, 27th September 2011. A lady believed to  be Hon Uboh’s sister who our crew met during the visit promised that the copy will reach our office on Thursday but unfortunately before we left for the press on Friday morning, paper of the judgement did not reach our office.

However, Hon. Victor Nwokolo reacting to the judgement through a phone call to Ika Weekly publisher said that the Appeal Court did not in any way declare Hon Doris Uboh winner, rather, the judgement referred them back to the lower court (tribunal). According to Hon Victor Nwokolo the Appeal Court judgement stated as thus “Delivering judgement in the  appeal filed by lead counsel, K.C. Mozea for Hon Doris Uboh, the appellate court allowed the election petition to be remitted back to the trial tribunal for hearing on the merit.” He said the Appeal Court did not give reason for the decision during the time of judgement, saying it would be given later.
Hon Nwokolo’s statement was supported with the visit of one of his lawyers to Ika Weekly office on Thursday, 29th September, 2011 who said that he was in the court during the hearing and that the court did not declare Hon Doris Uboh as a winner, “the court only ordered for a retrial at the lower court.”

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