Court orders swearing-in of Okonkwo as senator
After two years of legal battle, the Federal High Court, Abuja, yesterday ordered the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, to swear in Obiora Okonkwo as Senator representing Anambra Central Senatorial District of Anambra State.
Delivering judgment in a suit instituted by Okonkwo against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and three others, the trial Judge, Justice John Tsoho, held that the plaintiff was validly nominated by PDP in its primary election of December 7, 2014, for the Senatorial District.
In the uncontested suit, Justice Tsoho ordered that the Certificate of Return earlier issued to another aspirant, Senator Uche Ekwunife be withdrawn and a fresh one be issued to Okonkwo by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Okonkwo had in 2014 instituted a court action against PDP, its then National Chairman, Adamu Muazu, INEC and Senator Uche Ekwunife, challenging the nomination of Ekwunife as PDP’s candidate for the 2015 National Assembly election.
However, in the course of hearing of the suit, the four defendants withdrew their processes against the case and agreed to submit themselves to the judgment of the Federal High Court.
Justice Tsoho agreed with counsel to the plaintiff, Sebastine Hon (SAN), that in view of the withdrawal of all the respondents, the court was at liberty under the law to enter judgment in favour of Okonkwo.
The Judge held that with the withdrawal of the respondents, and their consent to submit to judgment, the plaintiff has emerged as the lawful candidate of PDP in the March 28, 2015 National Assembly election of Anambra Central Senatorial District.
Ekwunife was last year, dismissed by an Appeal Court sitting in Enugu.
Reacting to the judgment, counsel to the plaintiff, Hon stated that the judiciary has once again proved to be the hope of the common man.
He also commended the respondents in the case for their maturity.
The senior lawyer added that it was painful that the people of Anambra Central Senatorial District did not have representative in the Senate since 2015, adding that with the judgment, the hope of the people in the district has been restored.
Meanwhile, The Senate committee on Upstream Petroleum yesterday rejected the 2018 budget estimate of Nigeria Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NNRA) due to irregularities found in its operations document.
It also queried the Agency for generating an estimated N490 million and unilaterally spent N367million without authorisation from the National Assembly, thus, breaching the law.
Senator Omotayo Alasoadura, Chairman of the Committee declared his disapproval when the Director General, Nigeria Nuclear Regulatory Authority, Prof. Dim Lawrence, appeared before the committee to defend its budget.
Reviewing the 2017 performance of the Agency, it was discovered that it has been in the habit of generating and spending money without seeking due approval from the National Assembly.
The committee further found out that there were irregularities in the figures presented to the committee including failure to furnish the committee with comparative budget analysis.
The chairman there and then directed the committee clerk to write to all MDAs that they must present the committee with comparative budget analysis of their 2018 budget before appearing before the committee to defend their budget”
The committee warned that any MDAs that subsequently appear before the committee on budget defence without the comparative analysis would not be allowed to defend its budget.