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Speakership Race: Court Sacks Top Contender From House Of Reps

A member of the House of Representatives and contender for Office of the Speaker in the incoming National Assembly, Chief Chike Okafor, of the All Progressives Congress, APC, has lost his seat.

Okafor, who represents Ehimembano/ihitte Uboma/Obowo Federal Constituency, lost his seat to Emeka Nwajuba of Accord Party following a court order.

That fact notwithstanding, Okafor is currently a lawmaker-elect for the ninth National Assembly.
Meanwhile, Nwajuba got his certificate of return for the outgoing eight National Assembly yesterday in Abuja from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). He was a member of the House of Representatives between 1999-2003.

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.

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

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.

Okafor, who was 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.

According to him, the 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.

The sacked lawmaker, who was the House Committee Chairman on Health Services, 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.

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