A Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday declared former Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Dr Uchechukwu Ogah, as the duly elected governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress in Abia State.
Justice Binta Nyako, in a judgment, upheld the direct primary election that produced Ogah as APC’s candidate, having been monitored by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
Justice Nyako invalidated the candidacy of Chief Ikechi Emenike, who was earlier recognised by INEC as the party’s candidate for the March 11, 2023 governorship poll.
Ogah, in a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/95/2022, had sued High Chief Ikechi Emenike; APC; Senator Abdullahi Adamu, the party’s National Chairman; INEC and Daniel Eke as 1st to 5th defendants respectively.
In the amended originating summons filed August 22 by his team of lawyers led by D.D. Dodo, SAN, the ex-minister sought “a declaration that by virtue of Section 84(4) of the Electoral Act 2022, the direct primaries held by the 2nd defendant (APC) and monitored by the 4th defendant (INEC) was in substantial compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 on the conduct of primary elections for the nomination of governorship candidate for the 2nd defendant.
“A declaration that having conducted its direct primaries in line with Section 84(4) of the Electoral Act and having had same monitored by the 4th defendant, the 2nd defendant was not at liberty to conduct any other primaries for the nomination of a candidate for the Abia State Governorship contest in 2023.”
Ogah, among other prayers, urged the court to direct the APC to forward his name to INEC forthwith as its duly nominated candidate for the 2023 Abia governorship poll.
Delivering her judgment, the judge agreed with the plaintiff (Ogar) and ordered the party to forward his name to INEC as the duly elected Abia governorship candidate for the 2023 election.
Nyako, who invalidated the indirect election that produced Emenike as the party’s candidate, also directed the electoral umpire to recognise Ogah’s name as the duly elected APC’s candidate.
Reacting to the judgment, the Legal Adviser of the state APC, Vigilus Nwankwo, said the Appeal Court had already affirmed Emenike as the duly elected candidate of Abia APC, hence the judgment of a lower court could not alter the status quo.
“In the eye of the law Ikechi Emenike still remains the candidate of APC in Abia,” he said, adding that the said judgment delivered by Justice Nyako “cannot be enforced or executed until the final pronouncement by the Supreme Court on the subject matter.”
The Court of Appeal in Abuja had on October 14, 2022 upheld the judgment of the Abia State High Court presided by Justice Benson Anya which had on June 24, 2022 affirmed the candidature of Emenike in Suit No HUM/31/2022: Ikechi Emenike vs APC & 2 ORS.
The Appellate Court gave the affirmation while dismissing the application filed by Obinna Oriaku Eze, seeking to appeal against the judgment delivered on September 2, 2022 by the Appeal Court, Owerri Division in Appeal No. CA/OW/269/2022.
“The law is trite that judgments of the appellate courts bind the court and parties,” Nwankwo said, adding that “the judgment of the Federal High Court cannot override and is not superior to the said three judgments of the Court of Appeal.”
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