Ogochukwu Onyema, a lawyer, has asked the federal high court in Abuja to declare the seat of Ike Ekweremadu, senator representing Enugu west, vacant.
Onyema contested the party’s ticket for the position in 2019 but lost to the former deputy senate president.
Ekweremadu has been in detention in the UK since July.
The senator and Beatrice, his wife, are facing charges bordering on conspiracy to arrange/facilitate the travel of another person with a view to exploitation, namely organ harvesting.
In a suit marked FHC/EN/CS/7/2022, the lawyer asked the court to direct Iyorchia Ayu, national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to forward his name as replacement.
Onyema asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Ekweremadu.
“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-thirds of the total number of days during which the Senate meets in any one year, which is one-thirds of 181,” the court filings read.
“Whether by virtue of the continuous absence of the 3rd defendant (Ekweremadu) from the Senate since 22nd day of June 2022 or days prior (when he last attended the sitting of the Senate), up 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 (Chief 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.”
‘IT’S A BACK-DOOR MOVE’
In his submission, Chinenye Orji, a lawyer, said Onyema is trying to get into the upper legislative chamber “through the back door”.
“The senate sits for only three days in a week, that is from Tuesday to Thursday. Ekweremadu was arrested in the UK around 22nd June and Senate on recess in July and returned on 20th September,” Orji said.
“So, there is no way he could be absent from session for one-thirds of the seating between now and December because the Senate will only sit for a maximum of 42 days. When you take Christmas it will be much less. And if you add New Year and 2023 election recess, there is no way he could have absented himself from plenary for the remaining part of the lifespan of the Senate, which will most likely end in May 2023.
“The Electoral Act 2022 provides that you cannot occupy an elective position without participating in all the processes leading to the election. So, did O.A.U Onyema contest the senatorial election in 2019? The answer is ‘No’.”