Posted by News Express | 7 May 2020 | 1,468 times
By GEOFFREY ANYANWU, Enugu
Justice K. I Okpe of Enugu High Court yesterday reserved judgment for June 29, on a suit seeking to sack all the 17 local government chairmen and 260 councilors in the State.
The Chairmen and Councilors were allegedly elected on February 29 during state’s Council election conduced by the Enugu State Independent Electoral Commission (ENSIEC).
In the suit which was filed by Action Alliance (AA) party and another as 1st and 2nd plaintiffs respectively, ENSIEC was the only defendant.
The plaintiffs are challenging the validity of the February 29 Council elections, that produced the 17 chairmen and 260 councilors under the platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Godwin Onwusi, counsel to the plaintiffs, while addressing court urged it to nullify the entire election on the grounds that the defendant (ENSIEC), did not constitute a quorum when it issued a notice for the election.
He argued that the nonconstitution of quorum by ENSIEC rendered the entire election invalid, null and void.
Onwusi said his clients were relying on the affidavit and written address in support of the originating summons as well as reply on point of law and accompanying further affidavit to ask the court to grant the reliefs sought, as the defendant did not dispute the claim of the plaintiffs in its counter affidavit.
ENSIEC counsel, J.C. Diara in his response said the defendant filed a 28-paragraph counter-affidavit and a written address in support to oppose the plaintiffs and adopted same as their argument against the originating summons.
He, therefore, urged the court to reject the reliefs sought by the plaintiffs.
In the said counter affidavit, the defendant counsel argued that notwithstanding the lack of quorum, the notice of election, guidelines for election and timetable for the election issued by the chairman, were valid.
He said that the defendant placed reliance on Section 11 (8) of the ENSIEC Law, Cap 59, Revised Laws of Enugu State 2004, Volume II, which states that “The validity of any proceedings of the commission shall not be affected by any vacancy in its membership or any defect in the appointment of members.”
But relying on point of law, counsel to the plaintiffs stated that the contention of the defendant was misconceived as it assumes that membership has the same meaning with quorum.
The plaintiffs argued that if membership were to mean the same thing as quorum, there would have been no need to provide for quorum for meetings of the commission under Section 11(4).
After hearing counsel arguments, Justice Okpe adjourned the matter to June 29 for judgment.
The plaintiffs it could recalled had brought the suit through originating summons and sought among other reliefs, “a declaration that the defendant (ENSIEC) cannot validly issue Notice of Local Government Election, timetable and guidelines for the election when it had no quorum to take such decisions.” (Daily Sun)
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