*judge angry, warns against arbitrary actions.
The Anambra state governor, Mr Peter Obi has vowed that he would not appoint a new substantive chairman for the state’s Independent Electoral Commission (ANSIEC) pending the hearing and determination of the Exparte application brought by the commission’s erstwhile chairman Prof Titus Eze against Gov Peter Obi and the state House of Assembly(ANHA) challenging the manner of his sack, last September 6, 2011.
In the suit, Ref. A/136/2011 which made its debut yesterday, before Hon Justice H.O. Ozor, Prof Eze, through his team of lawyers led by Chief Nnamdi Ibegbu(SAN) is seeking an order of court restraining the respondents- the governor, and the state Assembly from appointing another chairman pending the hearing and determination of the matter. And that Eze’s removal as the chairman of ANSIEC on Sept 6, 2011 was unconstitutional, illegal, null and void, and of no effect.
When the matter came up for hearing yesterday, Justice Ozor warned all parties to keep the peace, noting that any action taken before the next hearing date by the parties including the appointment of a new chairman would be set aside by his court.
But the state’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Chief Emmanuel Chukwuma, who represented governor Obi and the state Assembly assured the court that no such appointment would be made.
Prof Eze said that his removal from office on Sept 6, 2011 was illegal, irregular, unconstitutional, null, void and of no effect by virtue of Sec 199(1) with which he was appointed, and Sec 201(1) and 125(3), (4), and (5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He also want a court declaration that he is still and remains the valid and lawful chairman of ANSIEC.
Especially when there was no audit report or query to him or was he summoned or given opportunity before any administrative, judicial or legislative panel for his defense or answer any charges for which he was indicted.
According to Prof Eze’s originating summons, “in view of the fact that the defendants did not comply with Sec 201(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federation, and the fact that he was not removed for misconduct, moreso that the Auditor General of the state relied on his periodic inspection cannot be the basis of misconduct which misconduct is unfounded.”
Citing the case of Gov of Kwara state Vs Ojibara. NWLR p661 as decided Justice Oguntade, of the Supreme Court, Eze saw his ouster as judicial ambush which short-circuited all legal norms of natural justice, hence rendering their actions null and void.
Eze therefore wants his sack to be reversed and for the governor to be restrained from appointing anyone in his stead until the full determination of his suit. He was appointed in May 2010, for a five year term as the chairman of ANSIEC.
The suit, some political observers noted would help to put the conduct of the council election in the state on hold pending the final determination of the suit. This does not RSEaugur well for the state that last held council election in 1998.
However, others have expressed readiness to go to court to restrain the Minister Of Finance, the Accountant General of the Federation and the Fiscal, Revenue Mobilization and Allocation committee from releasing the allocations due the 21 councils in the state to Governor Obi pending the conduct of the council election in the state.