The Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC] on Friday issued certificate of return to Prince Ned Nwoko as the lawful Senator-elect for Delta North Senatorial District. The brief ceremony took place at the Zambezi Crescent, Maitama, Abuja headquarters of the commission. The action followed the nullification of the election of Senator Peter Nwaoboshi via a landmark court verdict delivered on April 3, 2019 by Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
The ruling was to the effect that Senator Nwaoboshi was not the winner of the Peoples Democratic Party [PDP] primary conducted on October 2, 2018 in Asaba to nominate its senatorial candidate for Delta North district in the February 2019 general election.
The judge ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to publish the name of Prince Ned Nwoko as the rightful candidate of the PDP, having established the fact before the court that Nwoko scored a majority of the lawful votes in the primary. He also ordered Senator Nwaoboshi to stop parading himself as the candidate of the PDP for the Delta North senatorial district.
Nwoko through his counsel Ahmed Raji (SAN), had dragged INEC, PDP and Nwaoboshi before the court praying for an order to stop INEC from publishing or further publishing the name of Nwaoboshi as the candidate for Delta North senatorial district. Nwoko also asked for another order compelling the PDP to forward his name to INEC as the authentic candidate of the party for the senatorial district in the 2019 general election.
Nwoko who predicated his suit on seven grounds, which were supported by 20-paragraph affidavit evidence and five exhibits, averred that he was screened and cleared for the Delta North senatorial district by the PDP Electoral Committee.
He declared among other things, that at the end of the primary election, he scored 453 votes to defeat his closest rival, Nwaoboshi who scored 405 while Paul Osaji came third with 216 votes.
Nwoko, however, maintained that to his surprise, the PDP jettisoned the result of the primary election and forwarded Nwaoboshi’s name as its candidate for the senatorial district. He stated that all efforts to redress the injustice through the party’s appeal panel were frustrated and thus unsuccessful.
Efforts by secured a stay of execution of the judgment order met a brick wall following Justice Ahmed Mohammed decline to entertain his motion at the Federal High Court. The Judge rather passed the entire case file and Nwaoboshi’s motion to the appellate court for adjudication.
The refusal of the High Court to grant the prayer of Nwaoboshi for stay of execution cleared the coast for the issuance of certificate of return by INEC to Prince Nwoko as the rightful candidate of PDP and the Senator-elect for Delta North Senatorial District.