A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Thursday, ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue Senator Ifeanyi Ararume a certificate of return, for the December 5, 2020, Imo North Senatorial By-election, within 72 hours.
In his judgment, Justice Taiwo Taiwo, maintained that Ararume was the valid candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), noting that going by earlier judgments of the court, he remained the winner of the polls.
Justice Taiwo, said with regards to the Appeal Court judgment in Abuja, the 3rd defendant (Chukwuma Ibezim) remained disqualified.
Meanwhile, in an earlier ruling, the judge dismissed Ibezim’s application seeking a stay of judgment pending the hearing and determination of the suit before the Supreme Court, describing it’s as “an attempt to arrest the judgment,” dismissed it for lacking in merit.
Ibezim and Araraume had fielded themselves as APC candidates before the election.
Although INEC had declared APC winner of the December 5 Senatorial bye-election, the commission did not return any candidate from the party.
According to INEC, several court orders for and against the two contenders were the major reason why it did not return any candidate from the party.
Recall that Ripples Nigeria reported that two court judgments had surfaced on December 4, 2020; one from the Court of Appeal, Owerri, and the other from the Federal High Court, Abuja.
The Court of Appeal had faulted the judgment of the Federal High Court, Owerri, which nullified Ibezim’s candidacy and declared him a candidate, while sacking Ararume barely 24 hours to the election.
The Federal High Court, Abuja, had on the other hand declared Ararume the bonafide candidate of the party, because Ibezim presented fake certificates to the APC and INEC.
Meanwhile, Ararume, through his counsel, Ahmed Raji, SAN, applied to the Supreme Court, praying that the execution of the Appeal Court judgment stays.
Similarly, Ararume approached Justice Taiwo’s court for an order to compel INEC to issue him the certificate of return as the winner of the poll.
However, Ibezim, who applied for a stay of judgment through his lawyer, M.O. Daudu, informed the court that the suit was pending before the apex court for hearing and determination.
Meanwhile, Counsel to Ararume, Tunde Falola, argued that the suit at the Supreme Court had been withdrawn through a notice of withdrawal and copies served on all the defendants.