An Appeal Court has sacked the chairman of Njikoka Local Government Area in Anambra State but no one is enforcing the judgment, reports SEUN AKIOYE
He was a retired Nigeria Army colonel before he became a politician. So when he decided to serve the people of his constituency of Njikoka Local Government Area, he chose to contest for the council’s chairmanship. That was in 2013.
The story of his battle to reclaim the mandate is one long labyrinth of court injunctions and protracted legal battle. This later resulted in a judgment by the Court of Appeal in the Enugu Judicial Division which gave an order declaring Okafor as the winner of the chairmanship seat of Njikoka Local Government Area. That was on July 28, 2015. But rather than bring a closure to this long and tiring legal battle, it has opened another floodgate of injunctions. And this was when the troubles of Okafor really began.
An inconclusive election
The primary election to select the flag bearer of the APGA for the Njikoka local government chairmanship election was held on August 17, 2013. According to the documents made available to The Nation, five candidates bought forms and submitted at the appropriate date and they include one Mr. Emeka Onuora. According to court documents, it was on the election day that one Mr. Tony Nwazojie, who allegedly did not purchase the forms surfaced and presented himself as a candidate for the primary election.
Despite the reported protest of Okafor, Nwazojie participated in the primary and was declared winner with a total of 324 votes and Okafor who came second polled a total of 77 votes. But that was where sanity ended. After the primary, one of the contestants, Onuora, who allegedly polled no vote, was declared winner and the flag bearer of the APGA in the local government election.
Before the election, Okafor who spoke to The Nation said he instituted a court action against the candidate and the leadership of the party on January 9, 2014 at the State High Court, seeking an order to restrain Onuora from presenting himself as the candidate for the APGA for the Njikoka local government election. But the election held and Onuora was declared winner and subsequently sworn in as the elected chairman of Njikoka local government.
The election held on January 11, 2014 and Okafor lost his case. The Hon. Justice H.O Ozor, sitting at the High Court of Anambra State on October 8, 2014 in the Suit N0 A/9/2014 ruled that the suit was academic and hypothetical because election had been held and the defendant sworn in.
But Okafor would not give up and proceeded to the Appeal Court in case number: CA/E/640/2014 where he asked for a determination “Whether the Hon. Trial court was right in dismissing this pre-election suit which was filed before the election on the ground that it is academic and hypothetical, because the election had been held and the 3rd defendant sworn in after the election.”
The Appeal Court saw reason in Okafor’s argument, upheld the appeal and set aside the High Court judgment; the Court also gave a landmark judgment on July 28, 2015, by declaring Okafor winner of the chairmanship seat. The judgment reads: “That the Appellant Col. Bude Nnakee Okafor (RTD) is hereby declared winner of the Chairmanship seat, as candidate under the APGA of the Njikoka Local Government election of 11th January, 2014, having satisfied the provisions of Section 87 (5) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and Section 141 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and Article 24 (6) of the APGA constitution.”
The Appeal Court also granted the sum of N50, 000 in costs in favour of Okafor.
Passing the buck
But the Appeal Court ruling did not give the desired respite to Okafor as he has been battling for the enforcement of the judgment. According to his counsel, Emmanuel Ezeugo, the Attorney General of the state, Anali Chude was duly served with the court order but he did nothing about it. “He was served with the judgment of the Appeal Court and also the order and I requested for arrangement to swear in my client but after all that he kept quiet. He is the legal officer of the state and he is the one that can enforce it,” Ezeugo said.
However, when contacted, the Attorney General said the Ministry of Justice does not enforce judgments. “The Ministry of Justice does not enforce judgments. I am sure the appropriate quarters saddled with the responsibility will tell you why,” he said.
Also the chairman of the APGA in Anambra State, Chief Norbert Obi told newsmen that the party never received the court orders but declined to say if the party would respect the order if received.
“ The party has no such court order per se, we have no information to that effect, we were not served the judgment in our office,” Obi said.
Also the National Chairman of APGA, Dr. Victor Ike Oye in a message to our reporter could not comment on the matter, saying there is an appeal on the case. With those who could enforce the judgment passing the buck, it left many questions begging for answers.
What is the role of the governor,Willie Obiano in the unfolding saga? Is it true that the Attorney General was ordered “from above” not to obey the court injunction? Why is the Party not wading in to resolve the imbroglio?
Ezeugo said a contempt motion has been slammed on the state Attorney General. “We filed a motion at the court of appeal for contempt to try the Attorney General, let him show cause why he should not be committed to prison for disobeying the court order. The court removed the chairman of the Local government and declared Col. Okafor as the winner of the election and by that judgment, my client should have been sworn in since July,” he concluded.