By Special Correspondent
The re-election of Governor Hope Uzodinma for a second tenure may be in imminent jeopardy, as Hope Democratic Party (HDP) has threatened to seek redress in court over the exclusion of the party’s logo in the ballot papers used in the conduct of the November, 11, 2023 governorship election in Imo State.
The party disclosed this in a release signed by it’s Publicity Secretary, Chinedu Francis John and made available to the press.
The release dated November, 16, 2023, reads in parts, “We the state executive members of the Hope Democratic Party (HDP), wish to express high level of disappointment over the observed unlawful exclusion of our party and her Governorship candidate’s name and party logo from the ballot in the just concluded November 11th, 2023 Governorship Election in Imo State.
“Our Party got a subsisting court order on 1st of March 2023 from the Federal High court, Abuja directing INEC never to interfere in Hope Democratic Party activities as a registered political party in Nigeria which compels INEC to allow us participate actively in the November 11th, 2023 Governorship Election in Imo State as a registered political party in Nigeria.
“We had expected that INEC should respect the court order by according Hope Democratic Party the same right and privileges given to other registered political Party that participated in the last Saturday Governorship Election in Imo State.
“It is very disheartening to see our validly nominated Governorship and Deputy Governorship candidates being excluded unlawfully.
“We had successful Congress and Primary Election in Imo State as provided by law, submitted all forms with every documentary requirements and completely sponsored our candidates for the purpose of participating in the INEC scheduled November 11th Governorship election like every other registered political party .
“Our candidates Affidavits form sworn in the High Court was submitted including the INEC nomination forms which were also submitted to INEC duly in line with the INEC timetable and electoral guidelines.
“We as executives of the party and over a million lovers and supporters of our great party and our Governorship candidate were so surprised, disappointed and disenfranchised by INEC on Saturday 11th of November 2023 when we trooped out to vote but did not see our party Governorship candidates name and logo in the ballot papers on Saturday 11th November Governorship elections in Imo State.
“Our team of lawyers has started legal preparations to cancel the election at the tribunal in order to compel INEC to include HDP and her candidate in a fresh Governorship election.
“We are optimistic that our party will win Imo State Governorship seat if a fresh election for Imo Governorship position is conducted”.
“We as a party, hereby call on all our teaming party faithful and supporters who are still angry over the unlawful action of INEC to remain law abiding as we seek for lawful and legal means to persuade INEC to obey the rule of law.
“INEC committed the highest level of unlawful exclusion in Nigeria by excluding Hope Democratic Party and her Governorship Candidate from the just concluded Imo Governorship election.
“Our legal team is in high spirit to storm the tribunal soon.
“Our legal adviser, Barr. Ikenna Chinaka Esq, a solicitor and advocate in addendum, expressed utmost shock and inexplicable bewilderment cum disappointment with the election vis a vis the election umpire who failed, refused and neglected to abide strictly with the clear and unambiguous wordings of the electoral Act 2022”.
“The fact cannot be gainsaid that section 32 (1)-(3) of the electoral Act 2022 mandated INEC to publish the full names and addresses of candidates standing nominated 150 days before the day of election. The Act further mandated any political party that it’s name is missing on the list published to notify INEC vide a letter signed by the National Chairman and Secretary of the excluded political party with supporting affidavits. The law made the above provision mandatory as failure to do the needful by INEC can invalidate an election. It is our position that we complied with all these sacrosanct requirements, yet the electoral umpire neglected to rectify this anomaly and fragrantly moved on to conduct the election and excluded HDP. In his words “this is an assassination of the rule of law”.
Barr, Ikenna Chinaka further confirmed that we have complied with the necessary requirements of the law by filling the relevant INEC forms, which includes forms EC 13B, EC 9 & EC 9B, hence we are law abiding and have all it takes to approach the tribunal to cancel the just concluded gubernatorial election in Imo State.
He also said it is embarrassing that in a time where nascent democracy should be upheld, the bodies that ought to help build it are busy abusing democracy and tearing the beautiful apparel of the rule of law thereby fanning the embers of anarchy.
Barr. Chinaka maintained that the legal team is poised to challenge this excruciating wickedness and stand against the brazen rascality as we are making adequate preparations to steer the machinery of the law through the tribunal against the enemies of illegality irrespective of whose ox is gored”.
The party also expressed disappointment that the Independent National Electoral Commission, “INEC, either failed or refused to abide strictly with the clear and unambiguous stipulations of the Electoral Act, 2023″.