By Chuks Eke
The Federal High Court 1 sitting at Awka,, Anambra state, presided over by Justice H. A. Nganjiwa has disqualified Chief Victor Umeh, the Senatorial candidate of the Labour Party, LP for Anambra Central Senatorial District from contesting the February 25, 2023 Senatorial election for the senatorial district.
With this development, a deadly blow appeared to have hit the Labour party as it would no longer parade any candidate for the senatorial district unless the Court of Appeal reversed the lower court verdict on or before the election day.
Delivering a judgement yesterday in a suit filed against the Labour party and Senator Umeh, by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and its Anambra Central Senatorial candidate, Senator Uche Ekwunife, the court, in its three-hour judgment, disqualified Umeh on the grounds of non compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act as it concerns the membership status of one to contest a party primary.
The court noted that there was no evidence that the resignation letter by Chief Umeh to the leadership of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA was actually received by the party, hence his name was still in the register of members of APGA as at September 30, 2022 when he was said to have contested APGA primary.
The court contended that Umeh’s name was not in the register of members of the Labour party as at June 3, 2022, when the Labour party held its own primary election.
The court therefore declared as null and void the publication of Umeh’s name as a candidate earlier by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC as he failed to comply with the relevant provisions of the Electoral Act and the LP constitution.
The court therefore declared the publication as null and void and of no effect.
Court also issued an injunction restraining Umeh from further parading himself as Senatorial candidate of LP henceforth, adding that the injunction also prohibited the LP from accepting or presenting Umeh as her candidate.
Meantime, reactions have continued to trail the court verdict.
In his reaction, the Anambra Chairman of Peter Obi Presidential Campaign Council, Chief Joel martins Uzodike has described the judgement as an error on the ground that the suit is a matter for election petition tribunal as according to him, the plaintiffs have no business meddling into an internal affair of another political party.
Uzodike who to newsmen on phone, shorty after the judgement, said the verdict would have no negative effect on the Labour party or its Candidate, Umeh because it would not take them much to rush to the Court of Appeal to appeal against the judgement and at the same time file a stay of executive and continue with his campaign programmes.
He therefore urged party faithfuls not to lose sleep over the verdict but to remain calm, focused and watch events as they unfold.
Also an aide of Senator Umeh who spoke on to newsmen on phone on anonymous condition, said Umeh may not have heard of the verdict or might not be perturbed about it as he was eveñ busy that yesterday carrying out his campaign programme at Achalla community in Awka North Local Government Area of Anambra state.