A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, has barred Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from accepting or listing the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for Ehime/Mbano/Ihitte Uboma Federal Constituency (Okigwe South) in Imo State,in the rescheduled February 23, National Assembly election.
The development sealed the hope of the APC of fielding any candidate for Okigwe South as the spate of losses suffered by the party continues unabated. This followed similar losses in Zamfara and Rivers states.
Justice Bello Kawu dashed the hope of the party when he declared as unconstitutional, illegal, null and void the primary election conducted for the federal constituency.
A House of Representatives aspirant, Mrs. Uzoma Chioma Ann, had filed a suit against the APC and two others, at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, in the Bwari Judicial Division holden at Kubwa, Abuja, before Justice Kawu, seeking the nullification of the nomination of Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, as its candidate for the Okigwe South Federal Constituency, in Saturday’s elections. She claimed Nwajiuba’s emergence violated the party’s rules and guidelines.
Also joined as defendants in the suit were the APC and the INEC, as first and third defendants, respectively.
In his ruling, Justice Kawu cited various authorities and concluded that Nwajiuba’s nomination was “inappropriate, unlawful, null and void for failure to comply with the first defendants guideline for nomination of candidate.”
He also barred INEC “from further recognising, accepting or listing the second defendant’s name as the candidate of the first defendant in the 2019 ballot paper for Okigwe South House of Representatives election because the first defendant (APC) did not conduct primary for the office.”
Justice Kawu further held that having considered the case of the plaintiff and all authorities cited by the learned counsel, he was of the strong view that the question that calls for determination by the court was whether proper procedure was followed for selection or nomination of the second defendant as a candidate of the first defendant for Okigwe South Federal Constituency.
The court, which cited relevant sections of the Electoral Act 2010(as amended) and the APC constitution, said notwithstanding the provision of the Act or rules of political party, “an aspirant who complains that any of the provisions of the Act and the guideline of a political party has not been complied with in the selection or nomination of a political party for election, may apply to the Federal High Court as or the High Court of a state for redress.”
However, Nwajiuba, a lawyer and former lawmaker, had sensed and cited that the legal land mines had smartly left the party to pick the ticket of the Accord Party on which he is presently running, while the incumbent representative of Okigwe South, Chike Okafor, took up the ticket after another controversial primaries.