Thursday, 16 March 2017

Court bars APC from Anambra Central senatorial election



— 16th March 2017

A Federal High Court in Abuja, yesterday dismissed the suit brought by Sharon Ikeazor seeking to compel the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to accept her as the All Progressives Congress (APC) substitute to Dr. Chris Ngige.
The plaintiff had dragged the electoral body before Justice Anwuli Chikere, urging  the court to compel it to accept her as the candidate of the party in place of Dr.  Ngige who has withdrawn from the election.

But, in her judgment yesterday, Justice Chikere held that the time for political parties to nominate candidates for elective positions in respect of the 2015 election had since elapsed.
“The time for the nomination, withdrawal or substitution of candidates for the court ordered election in Anambra Central Senatorial District election has elapsed’’.
She held that “as decided by the Court of Appeal in the case of Labour Party against INEC,” there was no room for fresh candidates in a court ordered election.
Consequently, the judge dismissed the suit for lack of merit.
Meanwhile, former director of Finance, during the 2015 general election in the state, Dr. Chidi O. Ajaegbu has defected to APC.
This was even as the golden jubilee president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) has predicted victory for the party in the state in 2019.
Ajaegbu spoke at Umuojima-Ogbu in Osisioma Local Government Area of the state after formalising his membership at the ward level.
He told reporters that he decided to leave PDP to join APC because the structure of the latter in the state doesn’t allow transparency, credible democracy and was not an all inclusive government.
“Once the court below delivers its judgment on a National Assembly election petition appeal, the judgment is final and this court has no jurisdiction to hear any appeal related there to, no matter how cleverly framed,” Justice Augie said.
She further declared that Umeh’s preliminary objections to Ekwunife’s appeal succeeded, saying, “this court lacks jurisdiction. This appeal is struck out.”‎
Meanwhile, Chief Umeh, the APGA flagbearer for the election while reacting to the judgment appealed to INEC to hasten up the conduct of the Anambra Central Senatorial rerun poll.
“The Independent National Electoral Commission has nothing holding it anymore from going ahead to conduct the Anambra Central Senatorial election going by the judgment by the Federal High Court Abuja. The court had dismissed the suit by Sharon Ikeazor seeking to compel INEC to accept her as a substitute to Dr. Chris Ngige for Anambra Central re-run election which is consistent with the law and the firm position of INEC on the matter all along.
“The Supreme Court judgment of  February 10, 2017  has completely removed the PDP from the election as it affirmed that the decision of the Court of Appeal, Enugu Division on December 7, 2015  in respect of the Anambra Central Senatorial election is final forever.
“The Court of Appeal had on December 7, 2015 nullified the election and ordered a fresh election upon disqualifying the PDP candidate, Uche Ekwunife on the grounds on invalid sponsorship by the PDP in the election.
“So, there is no other case that INEC can wait for before fixing the date of the election. The status of the APC has been defined by the court judgment yesterday as there is no change of candidate permissible in the fresh election.
“So, the position now is that 14 out of 15 political parties that took part in the March 28, 2015 election with their previously nominated candidates are qualified to go for the re-run election. Only PDP is out of the election by the combined effects of the Court of Appeal judgments of December 7, 2015, the Supreme Court judgment of February 10, 2017 on the Anambra Central Senatorial poll and the S‎upreme Court. Judgment of  February 13, 2009 between Labour Party and INEC‎.
The PDP cannot initiate any action in court or rely on any pending action in court to prevent INEC from going ahead with the election as it no longer has a locus standi in the Anambra Central Senatorial election.
Umeh urged INEC to consider the plight of the Anambra Central District who have been without a representatives at the Senate for nearly two years now and go ahead to conclude the election in the interest of justice.

From Godwin Tsa, Abuja and Okey Sampson, Aba

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