THE Court of Appeal sitting in Enugu has struck out the appeal filed by Dora Akunyili of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, (APGA) against the decision of the election petition tribunal in Awka
which threw out her petition, challenging the election of Chris Ngige, as the Senator representing Anambra Central Senatorial Zone.
The three-man panel of the Appellate court, headed by Justice Ayobode Lokulo-Sodipe held that the appellants were in serious misapprehension of the finality of the Supreme Court decisions, maintaining that once the Supreme Court gives verdict, every decision of the subordinate court gives way.
The court held that the tribunal was right in striking out Professor Akunyili’s petition stating that no court can bring to life a petition that is dead.
The tribunal had earlier struck out Dora Akunyili’s petition on the grounds that the 180 days stipulated by the constitution for the trial and delivery of judgement on election petition has expired and this was affirmed by another Supreme Court ruling.
On February 17, 2012, the Supreme Court had ruled in the Borno governorship appeal (Shettima Vs Goni) that the Court of Appeal had no power to remit any case that had lasted beyond the period of 180 days stipulated in the Constitution for either hearing on merits or for de novo trial.
Section 285 (6) of the amended 1999 constitution holds that any case that had exceeded the period of 180 days ought to be struck for lack of jurisdiction.
The Apex court further described the 180 day stipulation for deciding all electoral cases as a Rock of Gibraltar or Mount Zion and ruled that the period could not be moved, extended or elongated by even a second.
Professor Akunyili’s petition was filed on May 17, 2011, six months after the 180th day as stipulated by the Constitution and affirmed by the Apex Court.
In her argument, Prof Akunyili, contended that her case is not affected by the Supreme Court decision, which came about after her petition was extended for a fresh 180 days in November 2011.
The former Minister of Information is challenging the victory of Dr. Chris Ngige of the Action Congress of Nigeria, (ACN), in the Anambra central Senatorial election in April 2011 elections. She asked the Appeal Court to remit her petition back to the tribunal to continue from where it stopped.