From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court has disqualified the nomination of a House of Representatives member, Chris Azubogu, as the senatorial candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) for Anambra South senatorial district in the 2023 general elections.
The federal lawmaker was disqualified on grounds of his membership in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) when in June this year he stood for the primary election under APGA for Anambra South Senatorial District.
Delivering judgment in the suit instituted by Ben Nwankwo challenging the unlawful nomination of Azubogu, Justice Ekwo, held that the lawmaker violated Sections 65 and 68 of the 1999 Constitution in the unlawful ways and manners he stood for the primary election under the APGA platform and got nominated for the February next year senatorial election for Anambra South.
Justice Ekwo agreed with the plaintiff that the 1st defendant (Azubogu) ought to have resigned, defected or cross-carpeted from PDP to APGA before he can lawfully qualify to stand for primary election on the platform of another party.
As a serving member of the House of Representatives, representing Nnewi North/ Nnewi South/ Ekwusigo Federal Constituency under the PDP ticket, Justice Ekwo held that Azubogu ought to have relinquished the seat if he had actually resigned his membership, defected from PDP to APGA or another political party.
The court held that without complying with mandatory provisions of Sections 65 and 68 of the 1999 Constitution and Article 27 of the APGA guidelines for the primary election for 2022, there was no way the federal lawmaker can lawfully participate in any primary election other than that of the PDP.
The court held that as of June 1, 2022, when APGA conducted its primary election for the nomination of a candidate for Anambra South Senatorial District, Azubogu who is the 1st defendant in the suit was not qualified to participate.
The court added that any action taken in contravention or breach of the 1999 Constitution is unconstitutional, null and void, adding that Azubogu having not been a member of APGA at the time he purportedly stood for the primary election of the party cannot be lawfully nominated by APGA.
The court consequently nullified his purported nomination and submission of his name to INEC as the candidate of APGA for the 2023 senatorial election.
In his place, Justice Ekwo ordered that the plaintiff, Ben Nwankwo’s name be submitted to the electoral body as the candidate of APGA for the election.
The court issued a restraining order prohibiting the House of Representatives member from parading himself as APGA candidate in the 2023 election and INEC from according him recognition as APGA’s candidate.