Prince Ned Nwoko has been issued with a Certificate of Return, by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, as the Senator-Elect for Delta North Senatorial zone.
Explicit photos of the presentation of Certificate of Return to Prince Nwoko by INEC, were released online to confirm the ceremony, which reportedly took place on Friday 10th May 2019, at INEC headquarters in Abuja, witnessed by friends, associates and ecstatic supporters.
However, the Senator Peter Oseluka Nwaoboshi (SPON) Campaign organization has reacted swiftly to the Certificate Presentation to Prince Ned Nwoko, describing the action as a perversion of justice and while hinting that the presentation by INEC may have been financially procured, stated categorically that Senator Nwaoboshi’s mandate as the Delta North Senator-Elect, following his victory at the February 23 National Assembly general election, was still intact, pending the ruling of the Court of Appeal on the matter, which is expected before the May 29 swearing-in date.
Delta Political watchers had anticipated with some guided certainty, that it was only a matter of time before Prince Ned Nwoko received the Certificate of Return as the Senator-Elect for Delta North, following the ground breaking ruling by an Abuja Division Federal High Court, on April 3, which nullified the election of flag-bearer Peter Nwaoboshi and pronounced Hon. Nwoko winner of the PDP Delta North senatorial primary.
Presiding Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Abuja Federal High Court, while delivering judgment in a suit filed by Ned Nwoko challenging the election of Nwaoboshi as the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party in the primaries of the party held in Delta, had declared that Nwaoboshi, the incumbent senator seeking reelection, was not the duly elected candidate of the PDP in the October 2, 2018, primary election.
In sacking Nwaoboshi, who had already been declared winner of the Delta North Senatorial seat in the February 23, National Assembly general election, the court, having been presented with copious and incontrovertible evidence, including Certified True Copies of some critical documents and other relevant materials utilized during the October 2, PDP primary, ruled that Nwaoboshi did not win the primary conducted to nominate the senatorial candidate for Delta North district in the 2019 general election.
Consequently, Justice Mohammed had ordered INEC to withdraw the Certificate of Return presented to Nwaoboshi as winner of the February 23, Delta North senatorial zone election and issue Nwoko with a new certificate of return.
Justice Mohammed had equally ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission to publish the name of Nwoko as PDP candidate, having established before the court that he scored the highest number of votes in the PDP October 2, 2018 primary election.
An attempt by Senator Nwaoboshi to reverse the Court Order had met a brickwall when the same Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, had refused to hear his application for an order restraining the INEC from issuing Certificate of Return to Prince Ned Nwoko as Delta North Senator-Elect.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed, who had made the earlier April 3 order to INEC, also declined hearing Nwaoboshi’s motion during a very brief a sitting, held April 17, on the grounds that the court lacked the jurisdiction to do so, based on the fact that the matter was already before the Court of Appeal.
Recall that Senator Nwaoboshi had, at the press briefing on April 4, immediately after the Abuja Federal High Court ruling, confirmed that he had already filed a notice of appeal to challenge the ruling of Justice Mohammed, even as he had noted that his sacking may have been done in error, since he was no longer the candidate of a political party but a senator-elect with a certificate of return.
Nwaoboshi further revealed that apart from filing his notice of appeal, he had also taken other steps to curtail what he described as “judicial rascality in the country,” adding that the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) sponsored him, “and my party has come to court to say that I am its candidate.”
The Delta North Senator had equally averred at the Press Conference, that part of the grounds of his appeal was that the learned trial judge erred in law, when he held that the suit filed by Prince Ned Nwoko was not caught by the 14 days rule in Section 285 (9) Fourth Alteration to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), pointing out that the primary election, which was the subject matter of the suit, was conducted on October 2, 2018 and the 14 days’ time allowed started running on the same October 2, 2018, when the primary election took place.
Another ground of appeal, according to Nwaoboshi, was that the learned trial judge erred in law when he claimed jurisdiction to entertain Ned Nwoko’s suit, despite same being filed on December 11, 2018 because the first respondent had earlier filed a suit before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, which he withdrew and which was then struck out on December 10, 2018.
Reacting to this new Presentation of Certificate to Prince Ned Nwoko as Delta North Senator-Elect, on the order by Justice Mohammed of the Abuja Federal High Court, the Director General of the Senator Peter Nwaoboshi Campaign Organisation, SPON, Chief Frank Nwugo, who spoke in a telephone conversation sourced from a sister online publication, said that it would be subjudice commenting on the matter for the fact that it was already before the Court of Appeal, even as he called on the supporters of Senator Nwaoboshi to remain resolute wherever there are, in the knowledge that they won the election and that by the grace of God, no man will be able to change their victory.
Chief Nwugo, himself a distinguished lawyer said: “That judgment in issue which he relied on was given on the 3rd of April, 2019 and now the appeal by the grace of God is coming up next week. So if you are saying you are relying on the high court judgment which nobody knew what happened and from the 3rd of April till date they were stopped from giving him the certificate of return on the ground that the matter is pending before the court of Appeal, what is this then that prompted the rush to give out the certificate of return less than a week to the court of Appeal sitting?” he wondered.
Speaking further in the reported telephone conversation, Chief Nwugo said, “I want to say, remember if you were privileged to be at the primary and witnessed the primary, now you see somebody going to write that he won and they changed the name, I don’t need to tell you the type of criminality such a person has committed and to ask if such a person is worthy to represent the people of Delta State for a copious and obvious issue that is known to all, of the most transparent primary ever conducted in the state concerning the National Assembly election”.
According Chief Nwugo, “For somebody to pervert the cause of Justice and righteousness on the platter of payment, because you can procure anything that pleases you; how would you rely on the integrity of such a person to represent the good people of Delta North? That is all the comment I want to make for now”, the DG of Senator Nwaoboshi campaign organization said.