Anambra House Seat: Tambuwal’s tough task
By Emmanuel Aziken
Controversy deepens in the House of Representatives over the occupation of the Anambra East/West Federal Constituency
Controversy over the continued refusal of the House of Representatives to inaugurate Comrade Tony Nwoye as a member of the House following court orders is deepening. Speaker Aminu Tambuwal, himself a former member of the body of benchers is pitched between the devil and the deep blue sea on the issue. To wit, legal cum judicial dictates against political expediency.
Nwoye had secured an order of mandamus on July 13, 2012 from Federal High Court, Awka to compel the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to recognize him as the legitimate winner of the election conducted for the Anambra East/West Federal Constituency in 2011. The seat has until now been occupied by Hon. Chriscato Ameke, who like Nwoye, vied on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
The order of mandamus was upon judicial pronouncements by the Supreme Court that Nwoye and those on the list of candidates presented with him from the primaries conducted by Senator Joseph Waku were the duly nominated candidates of the party.
Though Nwoye was not a party to the Supreme Court decision, he, however, benefited from the pronouncement of the apex court in the case instituted by Senator Margery Okadgibo who like Nwoye was nominated at the primaries conducted by Waku.
Upon the ruling by the Supreme Court and the order of mandamus procured by Nwoye, INEC complied and on July 16, 2012 issued Nwoye a certificate of return and withdrew the one earlier issued to Ameke.
What could have been an easy entry into the chambers of the House has, however, remained an issue of intrigues, politics and bureaucratic chatter.
While Ameke has sought to sustain his hold on the seat using other judicial channels including appeal, the bureaucracy of the National Assembly, notably the Director of Legal Services (DLS) was quick to counsel for Nwoye’s immediate inauguration last July. The DLS was, however, to change his stance following an appeal lodged by Ameke to challenge the ruling of the Federal High Court in Awka. Besides asking for a stay of execution, Ameke also launched an appeal on the issue at the Court of Appeal, Enugu.
In the interim, Speaker Tambuwal also sought other interpretations. The speaker, it was learnt, had sought the opinion of a team of legal experts in the House comprising close aides and some principal officers of the House who inclined themselves to the swearing in of the Nwoye.
Remarkably, as the tide in the House seemed to be pushing towards Nwoye, Ameke moved to the Court of Appeal in Enugu to apply for a stay of execution of the order of mandamus.
The order filed on February 25, 2013 was struck out two days later on February 27, 2013.
Following his latest victory, Nwoye again wrote to the speaker and the clerk of the National Assembly for him to be inaugurated. The DLS was said to have inclined himself positively to the demand with a recommendation that the former NANS president be sworn in. He affirmed that the discharge of the stay meant that there was no more legal or judicial reason to stop the inauguration.
The DLS opinion was further reinforced by the opinion of a committee reportedly inaugurated by Speaker Aminu Tambuwal on the issue.
The matter has apparently left the realm of the judiciary to the political sphere given alleged permutations and considerations by some in the House to skew the opinion of the House leadership on the issue.
Yesterday, it was learnt that yet another committee has again been set up on the issue.
It is indeed a tough challenge for Speaker Tambuwal who has so far gone the length to protect a legacy of uprightness in the application of the rule of law.
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