The Speaker, Kogi State House of Assembly, Hon. Matthew Kolawole has said that the PDP candidate for Ibaji state Constituency cannot be sworn -in yet, as the Legal department of the Assembly is still studying the Tribunal judgment that declared him winner of the 2020 December by-election.
The speaker spoke on Friday at the sidelines of the protest letter by the People’s Democratic party, PDP, demanding that their candidate be sworn in.
Kolawole also said the PDP candidate was yet to present his Certificate of Returns issued him by the electoral commissioner to the House.
“There are processes involved before a members can be sworn in. I have not receive a formal letter from the PDP candidate, neither has he presented his Certificate of Returns to me.
“The said person only came to me at the Assembly after the normal daily sitting has ended. He only introduced himself to me as the PDP candidate for the constituency.
“I have told him that the case is still at the Appeal court and that is the last place for electoral matter for state Assembly.
“For us at the Assembly, the legal department is still studying the situation and will come up with their position soon; which will guide us appropriately in taking decision.
“As legislators making laws, we can’t be the same people breaking the law. So, it’s not a matter of not obeying court order. We are waiting to be properly guided in our decisions, especially in a case like this that is still in the court of law.”
Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on January 29, had ordered the removal of Mr Atule Egbunu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and directed that he be replaced with the candidate of the party with the next highest votes in the December 5, 2020 by-election in the constituency; which is Daniel Enefola of PDP.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC had last week week issued Enefa a certificate of Return from the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC)
Despite that, the lawmaker sacked by the Tribunal has continued to attend legislative sittings with the other 24 APC lawmakers in the Kogi State House of Assembly.
The Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) deputy Publicity Secretary, Mohammed Kabir had described the action of the Assembly as a rape of democracy and a total disregard for the rule of law.
He also described the APC legislators as an impostor, just as he urged the appropriate authorities to look into the issue.
“On the 29th January, 2021, a judgment by a Federal High court seating in Abuja sacked Hon Atule Egbunu of the APC, representing ibaji constituency in the Kogi State House of Assembly as a result of improper primaries.
“Consequently, the party with the next highest number of vote was declared winner of the bye election conducted on 5th December, 2020 which is PDP and her candidate, Hon Ojata Daniel Enefola.
“Our legal team put up several letters to the Kogi State House of Assembly for official notification. He also copied INEC for the issuance of certificate of return to me. INEC in their procedure delayed for Over 14 working days in case an order for stay of execution may originate from the trial court but none.
“On the 18th of February 2021, the defendant approached the appeal seeking an order for stay of execution which was struck out. Hence, INEC has no option than to give our candidate Certificate of Return after which our legal team wrote again to the Speaker seeking for our candidate inauguration on the 9th of March, 2021. Our candidate personality met with the speaker on the 9th March, 2021 and he said he would refer the issue to house committee on legal issues.
“The clerk confirmed receipt on the letters from our legal team. Our party appeal to appropriate authorities to intervene as what is happening is a violation of the rule of law and disrespect to an order of a court of competent jurisdiction. Allowing the sacked member to appear in the proceedings of Kogi State House of Assembly amounts to gross impersonation” he added.
Daniel Enefola polled 4, 565 votes in the December 5, 2020 by-election coming second behind Mr Egbunu of the APC who polled 8,515 votes in the election.
His removal as the lawmaker representing Ibaji was sequel to a suit filed by a member of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) in the State, Mr Joseph Enemona.
The plaintiff (Enemola) challenged the nomination of the sacked lawmaker, Mr Egbunu, as the party’s candidate for the by-election after the demise of a two time lawmaker in the constituency, Hon. John Abbah.
The plaintiff who had sought to contest for the APC ticket with Mr Egbunu and five others, alleged in his suit that the party (APC) failed to hold any primary election.
According to the plaintiff in his suit, the organisers of the purported APC primary election came to the venue with a prepared result and deprived him and his agents of entry. A position that the Tribunal affirmed.