By Raphael Onyekachukwu
The battle for the soul of Ananbra Central Senatorial seat, Peoples Democratic Party Candidate in the March 28, 2015, election, Senator Uche Ekwunife, may not be qualified to participate in the re-run election ordered by the Enugu Appeal Court panel which nullified her election.
In a full text of the certified true copy of the Appeal Court judgment made available to 247ureport.com in EnuguTuesday, the court held that the 11th Respondent (Ekwunife) “was not the product of a valid primary and was therefore not duly and legitimately nominated.
“That has disqualified her from contesting the election into the Anambra Central senatorial District.” The court cited Supreme Court ruling on Wambai Vs Donatus (2014) that “a person cannot be qualified to be a candidate of a party except and unless he is nominated and sponsored by a political party.
The court noted that neither Ekwunife nor the PDP led an evidence to prove that there was a primary and those who participated in such a primary where Ekwunife was elected.
Chairman of the Appeal panel Justice A.D. Yahaya who read the judgment said “…after an election if a person wishes to challenge the result of the election on ground of nomination/pre election matter, he can legally do so before a tribunal under Section 138 (1) (a) of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended and it is wrong to hold that an election tribunal does not have jurisdiction to hear and determine such a matter.”
He therefore held that “nomination is part and parcel of qualification to stand for an election and since an election can be challenged on the grounds of lack of qualification, it follows that the appropriate forum to challenge it after the election is held is the Election Tribunal….”
The Court ruled that the tribunal was therefore patently wrong in its decision.
“It had completely misapprehended the case presented in that vein and that had coloured its vision, denying it the composure and dispassionate consideration of the case. It noted that once the tribunal held the opinion that that the issue of nomination was an internal affair and not justiceable, denying it the jurisdiction to entertain the issue, it lost focus and that clearly is prejudicial to the interest of the appellants.
“The decision arrived at was perverse and the right course of action is to set aside the decision.
“Consequently the perverse decision which held that the 11th respondent had been properly and legitimately sponsored by the 12th Respondent must and is hereby set aside.
“In view of this, it is totally unnecessary to go into other issues raised for determination by the appellants, especially as we have set aside the judgment for being perverse. Nothing can be built on it.”
Speaking on the revelations of the detailed judgment Chief Victor Umeh, the APGA candidate in the election said, “the judgment has clearly removed Uche Ekwunife and the PDP from the next election” arguing that if one is not qualified to contest an election the person cannot be qualified to be part of the re-run election.
“We have heard rumours that the PDP is planning to hold ward congress on January 7th and thereafter hold a primary on the 9th to nominate their candidate so it’s laughable because nomination for participation in this election ended in December 2014 and that withdrawal and substitution had also been concluded.”