Frank Ibezim has been sworn in as the senator representing Imo North senatorial district after three months of a legal tussle with Ifeanyi Ararume, a contender for the seat.

He was sworn in by Ahmad Lawan, the Senate President, at the start of plenary on Tuesday.

Messrs Ibezim and Ararume, both members of the All Progressives Congress (APC), claimed victory at the by-election held last year.

No one was named winner of the poll by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) owing to conflicting court orders. However, INEC declared the APC the winner of the election.

Mr Ibezim had on March 23 filed an appeal at the Supreme Court seeking to upturn a December 4, 2020, judgment of Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja, and another verdict of the Court of Appeal in Abuja on February 6 – both of which nullified his candidature on the grounds that he made false declaration in the documents he submitted to INEC.

The courts had held that Mr Ibezim “bears two different and irreconcilable names” and presented three falsified West African Examination Council results for the same election.

Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja had also on March 18, ordered INEC to issue Mr Ararume the certificate of return as the rightful candidate of the APC which was declared the winner of the bye-election.

After weeks of litigation, the Supreme Court on April 17 affirmed Mr Ibezim as the authentic candidate of the APC in the bye-election.

Justice Emmanuel Agim who delivered a unanimous judgment of the apex court held that the suit which led to Mr Ibezim’s disqualification for allegedly supplying false information to secure nomination was statute-barred at the time it was instituted.

Mr Ibezim will replace Benjamin Uwajumogu who died in December 2019.

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