Two separate courts in Anambra State have ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to list Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo, a former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor; and Ugochukwu Uba as the candidates of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) respectively.
The Federal High Court sitting in Akwa, Anambra State, and an Anambra State High Court delivered the separate judgements on Monday.
INEC in a list published on 16 July excluded the name of Soludo from the official list of governorship candidates despite winning the governorship primary organised by APGA.
The electoral umpire, instead, listed Michael Umeoji as the party’s candidate.
According to INEC, its decision to list Umeoji, and not Soludo, who got the backing of the state’s incumbent governor, Willie Obiano, as APGA’s candidate was based on a court order.
Soludo belongs to the Victor Oye-led faction, while Umeoji is a member of Jude Okeke’s-led faction.
Festus Okoye, INEC’s commissioner for information and voter education, indicated that Musa Ubale, judge of a high court in Jigawa state, had passed judgment in suit JDU/022/21, upholding the suspension of Victor Oye and affirming Jude Okeke as the party’s national chairman on June 30, 2021.
However, Soludo filed a suit countering the action of INEC and prayed to the court to declare him as the APGA candidate.
Delivering judgment on Monday, Justice Chukwudi Okaa, the presiding judge, said the other parties in the suit, comprising Jude Okeke, Edozie Njoku, and Chukwuma Umeoji, were “meddlesome interlopers”.
The judge, therefore, affirmed Oye as the national chairman of the party and ordered INEC to recognise Soludo as the APGA governorship candidate for Anambra State.
In the case of the PDP, INEC excluded the name of the party’s candidate from the list of cleared candidates for the poll.
The electoral body said its decision to exclude any PDP candidate was in recognition of court judgments following the disputed governorship primary of the party.
A Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court had on 15 July ordered INEC to suspend moves to publish any name as the governorship candidate of the PDP.
Valentine Ozigbo and Ugochukwu Uba had emerged as the PDP’s governorship candidates from parallel primary elections.
The PDP submitted Ozigbo’s name to the electoral umpire as its candidate for the 6 November election.
But Justice Obiora Nwabunike of the Anambra State High Court declared Uba, who is from the popular Uba family in the state and one of the renowned Uba brothers, as the PDP candidate for the governorship election.
Uba had approached the court in suit number A/230/2021 to determine if the primary election conducted by the national executive of the PDP at the Dora Akunyili Women’s Development Centre – which produced Ozigbo – on June 26 was done according to the law.
He asked the court to determine whether an Abuja high court order, on a suit by one Samuel Anyakorah against PDP, bordering on validity of the process that produced Ndubuisi Nwobu, the party’s factional state chairman, had been set aside or stayed.
He also prayed the court to determine if the process of the primary, which produced Ozigbo through ‘super delegates’, was in line with the provisions of the electoral act, which states that primary elections would be done through delegates’ congress.
In his ruling, Nwabunike said the court order, which restrained PDP from conducting the primary election, had neither been stayed nor set aside.
He said that PDP erred by not clearing every legal huddle before the primary election, hence the process was in defiance of the law.
The court, therefore, held that the primary, which produced Uba at the Paul University’s complex on June 26 was lawful and in accordance with the electoral guidelines.
The judge also awarded N10 million in Uba’s favour as the cost of litigation.
The judgment, however, came a few hours after Justice Hyeladzira Nganjiwa of the Federal High Court in Awka, ordered INEC to publish the name of Valentine Ozigbo as the candidate of the PDP for the same election.