…Says Ayogu “read judgment out of context”
The Federal High Court, Abuja on Monday upheld the nomination of Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi as the Peoples Democratic Party candidate for the April 11governorship election in Enugu State.
Dismissing the suit brought by Senator Ayogu Eze seeking to upturn the nomination of the Hon. Ugwuanyi, the Court presided by Justice Evo Chukwu, held that there was no infraction on the Electoral Act.
Senator Ayogu Eze, a governorship aspirant, had approached the Federal High Court to challenge the delegates list used for the conduct of the election that produced Uguwanyi on the grounds that another Federal High Court presided by Justice Adeniyi Ademola had in November, 2014 sanctioned the list produced by an ad-hoc delegates election duly conducted by the party in the state, which elected him in a parallel primary.
He therefore urged the court to hold that the PDP by ignoring, “refusing and/or neglecting to receive and act on the result of the ad-hoc delegates list” is breach of Article 2 and 3 of the PDP Electoral Guidelines for Primary Election 2014, Section 87 (1) and (2) of the Electoral Act and Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution.
Justice Chukwu, however, upheld the submissions of defence counsel, Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN) and ruled that the judgment of Justice Ademola did not embody a mandatory order to use the delegates list from the ad-hoc delegates election, noting that there was no breach of Section 87 (4) (b) of the Electoral Act. He added that there is nothing before the court to show that any list was sanctioned.
He added that “It is obvious that he (Eze) read the judgment out of context and attempted to impute meaning outside the judgment”.
The court noted that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had through an affidavit it deposed before it, confirmed that its officials only monitored the conduct of the December 8, 2014, primary election that was organized by the National Working Committee, NWC, of the PDP, which was won by Ugwuanyi.
It said that the plaintiff, Senator Eze, failed to adduce any evidence to show that the parallel election that produced him, was either conducted, sanctioned or authenticated by the PDP through its NEC.
The Court held: “The plaintiff had tried to import into the judgment what was not said by the Judge. The powers to conduct congresses are vested on NEC of a political party by the Electoral Act.
“Plaintiff has not been able to show any infraction on the Electoral Act. Only one election was conducted in Enugu by NEC of the PDP and it elected Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi as its candidate,” the judge ruled.
“Even if I agree with the plaintiff that there was parallel primary election on that date, the party still has the power to decide on who to sponsor and it has said that it is Ugwuanyi.
“The court, based on facts made available to it by all the parties in this matter, is on the right pedestal to hold that only one primary election was conducted by NEC of the PDP which nominated Ugwuanyi as its candidate”.
The Court expressed surprise that whereas Ayogu Eze insisted that he was forced to boycott the primary election that produced Ugwuanyi after the man that was mandated by the PDP NWC to conduct the exercise, His Royal Highness, King Asala Asala, showed him the ‘doctored’ list of delegates, he, however failed to mention the name of the person that conducted the parallel primary election where he (Eze) was declared winner.
In his remarks after the judgment, lawyer to the PDP, Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN) said: “We contended that the PDP conducted only one election in Enugu state and that election produced Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi. So, the plaintiff embarked on an illegality. The congress that produced him was not conducted by the National Working Committee of the PDP. That is it”.
On his part, one of the legal counsels to Senator Eze, Alex Akoja, said: “Eze approached the Federal High Court to confirm the election where he emerged as the governorship candidate of the PDP in Enugu state. The court dismissed the preliminary objection. But on the substantive suit, the court declared the fourth defendant (Ugwuanyi) as the candidate that emerged from the primaries. That is the judgement of the court.”
Meanwhile, the Court premises was turned into a carnival ground immediately after the judgment as supporters of Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi who thronged the court premises sang and danced in jubilization extoling the PDP candidate, the State Governor, Barr. Sullivan Chime, and Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, although they were not in court.
The court will on Tuesday hear similar case, which was filed by another governorship candidate of the PDP in the state, Chief Samuel Maduka Onyishi.