The courts have again created confusion and uncertainty around who the authentic candidate of a party should be in respect of a forthcoming election.
This is as an Owerri High Court on Thursday reaffirmed the election of Chukwuma Umeoji as the candidate of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) for the November 6 governorship election in the state, sacking the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Chukwuma Soludo.
Both candidates belong to different factions of the party, led by two different factional chairmen.
A federal high court sitting in Awka, the Anambra capital, had also recently affirmed Soludo as APGA candidate ahead of the governorship election in the state.
Soludo who belongs to the Victor Oye-led faction of APGA had secured 740 votes to defeat Ezenwankwo Christopher who polled 41 votes, while ThankGod Ibe had four votes, and Okolo Chibuzor got seven votes.
But in the list published on July 16, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) picked Michael Umeorji over Soludo as the standard-bearer for APGA.
INEC said it based its decision on a court orders.
But in today’s ruling, the court refused to recognise Victor Oye as the national chairman of the party.
The Presiding Justice V. C. Isiguzo of Court 9, Owerri High Court, also refused to grant a stay of execution on the previous ruling of Justice B. C. Iheka of Owerri High court.
A suit filed by Prof Soludo and Oye has sought to prevail on INEC to remove Umeoji as the candidate of APGA.
This ruling was sequel to an application for stay of execution and leave to appeal filed by Chief Oye wherein the court granted him leave to appeal but refused to grant the order for stay of execution but rather went ahead to reaffirm its earlier judgment.
Consequently, the Court expressly stated that INEC cannot evade its duty to comply with the Orders of the Court declaring Umeoji as APGA 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.
The judgement was delivered on 28th July 2021, which declared Umeoji candidate and ordered INEC to continue to recognize him and Jude Okeke as chairman pending the determination of the appeal filed by Victor Oye at Appeal Court Owerri.
The court said that INEC must continue to recognise Umeoji as the candidate of the party until the Appeal Court rules otherwise.
It also mandated the electoral body to accept and continue to recognize and publish the name of Umeoji who emerged as APGA’s governorship candidate in Awka as the candidate of the party and to mandatorily include his name in all electoral processes for the Anambra Governorship election.
In the run up to the 2015 general elections, a number of controversial and contradicting rulings emerged from different courts around the country on the same issues, creating a lot of confusions at that time.
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