From Jefferson Ibiwale, Benin
The Court of Appeal sitting in Benin, on Thursday set aside the judgment of a lower court and declared as unconstitutional, null and void the sacking of the late Justice Gabriel Okungbowa- led Edo State Independent Electoral Commission, EDSIEC, by the Edo State government in 2007.
During the administration of governor Osarhiemen Osunbor, the commission was dissolved based on a resolution of the State House of Assembly which accused it of improper conduct and sale of nomination forms to aspirants to local government councils without recourse to their political parties.
Following the dissolution, members of the commission approached the High Court in Benin to protest the termination of their appointment and on November 14, 2007,
Justice P. Imoedemhe delivered a judgment against them, insisting that the members erred by selling nomination forms to aspirants for the local government elections.
The appellate court, however, upturned that ruling on January 16, 2014 and ordered the Edo state government to pay the sacked members their salaries and allowances from June 19, 2007 to July 10, 2010, when their tenure was supposed to expire.
Justice Helen Moronkeji Ogunwumiju, who presided over the matter noted that it was within the powers of the electoral body to sell sell nomination forms.
“From the provisions of the constitution stated above, it goes without saying that the sale of nomination forms falls within the constitutional powers vested in the Appellants and there is no statute specifically prohibiting the Appellants from doing so. To argue contrary to this lucid fact would be a sheer waste of time,” the judge ruled.