Ogochukwu Onyema, an Enugu-based lawyer, who hails from the senatorial district of the former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has approached the Federal High Court in Enugu praying it to declare the constituency seat vacant.
Ekweremadu is the serving senator from Enugu West constituency where the lawyer prayed the court to declare vacant over the lawmaker’s detention in the United Kingdom where he is facing charges bordering on alleged organ trafficking.
According to Onyeama, the seat cannot continue to be vacant while Ekweremadu remains in detention.
In the legal proceeding marked FHC/EN/CS/7/2022 filed at the Federal High Court, Enugu, Onyema besought the court “to command and mandate” the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, and PDP to “nominate, and forward” his name to the National Assembly “as a replacement” for Ekweremadu.
He also prayed the court to command and mandate the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, and INEC to “withdraw or revoke, as the case may be, the Certificate of Return earlier issued to the 3rd defendant (Ekweremadu) and issue a fresh “Certificate of Return” to him.
Ekweremadu had at the PDP senatorial primary election, which took place at Awgu, Enugu State, on October 2, 2018, polled 690 votes to emerge winner, defeating his closest rivals, Mr. Isaac Okah, who polled 84 votes, and Onyema who polled 61 votes to come a distant third.
But in an originating summons, Onyema wants the court to determine, among others: “Whether it is the intendment and contemplation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) as amended 2018; the Senate Standing Orders 2015 as amended; and the Senate Legislative Calendar 2022, that the seat of Enugu West Senatorial District in the 9th Senate will be declared vacant by default, if the Senator representing, without just cause absent from sittings of the Senate for a period amounting in the aggregate to more than one-third of the total number of days during which the Senate meets in one year, which is one-third of 181.
“Whether by virtue of the continuous absence of the 3rd defendant (Ekweremadu) from the Senate since June 22, 2022 or days prior (when he last attended the sitting of the Senate), till the date of adaptation of this Summons, or any other date thereafter, it could be said that the 3rd defendant is still validly representing the plaintiff (Onyema) and Enugu West Senatorial District, as provided by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and the Senate Standing Order 2015 as amended, in Nigeria Senate.
“Whether going by the heinous allegations levelled against the 3rd defendant and his incarceration at the United Kingdom, Wandsworth Prison, since around 22nd day of June 2022 up till the date of adoption of this Summons, the 3rd defendant can be said to have defaulted and be away from representing the plaintiff and Enugu West Senatorial District in the House of Senate, for no just cause, as provided for in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) as amended in 2018.
“Whether by virtue of the 3rd defendant’s travails, which was not caused by the plaintiff or any of his constituents, and going by the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) as amended, the Senate Standing Order 2015 as amended, it is wise and best, for the 3rd defendant to honourably agree that he has defaulted in representation, withdraw from his position, and mandating the 1st and second defendants (the Senate President and the Senate) to declare his position vacant by default, and instantly communicate same to 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th defendants (Clark to the National Assembly, Dr. Ayu, PDP, Prof. Yakubu, and INEC) for appropriate and timeous actions, of his replacement with the plaintiff, by the 5th and 6th defendants. And Certificate of Return to be issued to the Plaintiff by the 7th and 8th defendants.”