From Fred Itua, Abuja
The battle for the governorship ticket of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and the chairmanship of the party have swung back in favour of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) recognised candidate, Chukwuma Umeoji and Jude Okeke.
This follows the landmark ruling of the High Court of Owerri on Thursday, which struck out a fresh court action brought by Victor Oye to stop Umeoji and reaffirmed its earlier judgment declaring the Owerri convention that produced Okeke as APGA chairman valid and directing INEC to recognise Umeoji as APGA governorship candidate.
This ruling followed an application for stay of execution and leave to appeal filed by Oye, wherein the court granted him leave to appeal, but refused to grant the order for stay of execution. Instead, it went ahead to reaffirm its earlier judgment.
The court expressly stated that INEC cannot evade its duty to comply with the orders of the court declaring Umeoji candidate and therefore has a legal obligation to continue to carry out, obey and comply with the extant, valid and subsisting judgment of the court delivered on July 28 which declared Umeoji candidate and ordered INEC to continue to recognise him, pending the determination of the appeal filed by Oye at the Owerri Appeal Court.
A party scribe said by the ruling, INEC is directly restrained from attempting to remove the name of Umeoji as candidate of APGA from its list as being rumoured that it was under pressure to so do.
‘Recall that the Court of Appeal Kano Division, had on the 10th of August, 2021 set aside another judgment of the Jigawa High Court which also held that Okeke is the national chairman of APGA and only governorship Congress held by him shall be valid without making any orders as to who should be the candidate of the party,’ he said.
‘The Kano appeal Court did not delve into finding who between Prof Charles Soludo and Hon Chukwuma Umeoji should be the candidate of the party but rather in a controversial judgment and reversal of their earlier ruling that the appeal is statute-barred for been pre-election but still set aside the judgment as a nullity for want of fair hearing and lack of jurisdiction without making any consequential order of who is APGA Chairman or Candidate.
‘The implication of this is that the judgment of Justice BC Iheka of the Owerri High Court making direct orders against INEC, the Commission is bound to obey the judgment and continue to maintain the name of Hon Umeoji as the candidate of APGA for the November 6 governorship election.’
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