Good news for Gbajabiamila’s speakership bid, as court ‘throws out’ major challenger

The bid of the majority leader of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila to become the speaker of the 9th Assembly received a boost when the court ordered that the member that representing Ehimembano/ihitte Uboma/Obowo Federal Constituency, Chike Okafor be removed.

Okafor who is a first timer in the House of Representatives was immediately removed, and replaced with Emeka Nwajuba of Accord Party who was issued his Certificate of Return by the Independent National Electoral Commission on Monday.

Nwajiuba was a member of the House between 1999-2003.

Okafor, who is serving his first term in House had few weeks ago declared his intention to vie for the position of the Speaker of the 9th House of Representatives.

By the virtue of his removal, he will not be qualified to contest for the speakership position again when he returns to the House of Reps.

According to the lawmaker, who is the current Chairman, House Committee on Health Services, his decision to contest the seat was borne of the need for the Southeast geo-political zone to be adequately rewarded for its contribution to the success of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the 2019 general election.

He contended that justice and equity demand that the region be considered for the position since other regions have been duly compensated.

Okafor also banked on his ranking status having won the return ticket until the latest development.

The lawmaker could not be reached for his reaction over the development as calls to his mobile phone returned unreachable.

Nwajiuba, in his acceptance speech, while commending INEC and the judiciary for retrieving his mandate, however called on APC leadership to consider the South East in zoning the Speakership of the House of Reps to the Southeast.

He said the APC has made steady progress between 2015 and 2019 in the zone, adding that zoning such position to the South East would lead to national stability, inclusiveness and consolidation.

The electoral body reiterated its commitment to neutrality in election disputes with a promise to provide all requested documents to parties concerned.

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The Commission however advised senior lawyer to re-examine the manner of sending junior lawyers to access sensitive election documents from it.

INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye during the issuance a certificate of return to Nwajiuba said the Commission is committed to obeying court orders.

“On our own part, we are committed to giving all the political parties that are in election petition process whatever documents they want so long as we have those documents.

“We want to appeal to political parties, we want to appeal to lawyers engaged in election petition process to show leadership and show courage when dealing with issues around whether the Commission has obeyed a particular court order or whether the Commission has not obeyed a particular court order.

“We are committed to obeying all court orders whether those court orders are in favour of the Commission or against the Commission. It is now left for the judiciary to use their interpretative powers to adjust on matters,” he said.