Godwin Tsa, Abuja
.A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has declared that the All Progressives Congress (APC) has no candidate for Anambra Central senatorial district having failed to conduct a primary election for the said senatorial seat
Consequently, the court has restrained Sylvester Okonkwo from holding or parading himself as the candidate of the APC for Anambra Central district election in the state.
Besides, the court further restrained the APC and the Independent National Electoral Commission from dealing with or according recognition to Sylvester Okonkwo or any other person as the candidate of the party for Anambra Central senatorial district.
The court arrived at the decision while delivering judgment on the suit filed by Ebele Obi against the APC, Sylvester Okonkwo and the Independent National Electoral Commission.
In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/ CS/ 1463/ 2018, filed and argued by his counsel, Nnaemeka Ugah, the plaintiff challenged the submission of Sylvester Okonkwo’s name to INEC, by way of substitution, as the candidate of the APC for the senatorial district, when he did not participate in any primary election of the party.
Justice Taiwo. O. Taiwo who delivered the judgment agreed with the plaintiff that “by Article 20(iii) of the APC constitution 2014 (as amended), and Article 18 of the 1st defendant (APC) guidelines for nomination of candidate for the 2019 general election, the candidate of the 1st defendant must be selected through a primary election duly conducted by the party.”
The Judge further held that “having regards to the provisions of section 87(4) of the Electoral Act, 2010, Article 20(iii) of the constitution of the APC 2014, and Article 18 of its guidelines for the nomination of candidates for 2019 general elections read together with section 35 of the Electoral Act, 2010, the APC cannot legitimately produce any candidate by any means including substitution and does not presently have any candidate for Anambra Central senatorial district for the 2019 National Assembly, being that there was no primary election conducted by the party for the said senatorial district.”
Justice Taiwo also agreed with the plaintiff that the actions of the party (APC) in submitting the name of Okonkwo to INEC, upon the withdrawal of Senator Uche Ekwunife, whose name was initially forwarded, as the party’s candidate for the Anambra Central Senatorial district in the 2019 National Assembly election, “when Okonkwo did not purchase any expression of Interest/nomination form from the party, was not cleared to contest the party’s primary election and did not in fact contest any primary election of the APC, was done in clear violation of the Electoral Act 2010, the APC constitution and is null and void.”
The court also relied on the report of the INEC on the National and State Assembly Primaries of APC which was attached to the originating summons as an exhibit.