Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate, Chike Okafor, have approached the Abuja division of the Court of Appeal to nullify the judgment of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) that produced Emeka Nwajuba of the Accord Party as a member of the House of Representatives for Ehimembano/Ihiteuboma/Obowo Federal Constituency of Imo State.
Justice Bello Kawu of the Bwari division of the FCT High Court had, in the order made on February 12, barred the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from accepting or listing the candidate of the APC in the rescheduled National Assembly election.
The legal action, which gave rise to the eventual emergence of Nwajuba, was ignited by a House of Representatives aspirant, Mrs. Uzoma Chioma Ann, who had filed a suit before the High Court against the APC, Nwajuba and INEC.
Among other reliefs, Okafor sought the nullification of the nomination of Nwajiuba as candidate for the Okigwe South Federal Constituency for the 2019 election, alleging that Nwajiuba’s emergence violated the party’s rules and guidelines.
Justice Kawu, in his ruling, cited various authorities and concluded that Nwajiuba’s nomination was “inappropriate, unlawful, null and void for failure to comply with the first defendants guideline for nomination of candidate.”
He also barred INEC “from further recognising, accepting or listing the second defendant’s name as the candidate of the first defendant in the 2019 ballot paper for Okigwe South House of Representatives election because the first defendant (APC) did not conduct primary for the office.
Ironically, Okafor, who was the nominated candidate of the APC for the seat was not made a party in the suit and was denied the opportunity of being heard.
While the suit was pending before the court, Nwajuba joined the Accord Party, where he contested the elections against Okafor of the APC, who won the election and was issued with a certificate of return by INEC.
It was after the issuance of the certificate of return on Okafor that his attention was drawn to the suit pending at the Kubwa division of the FCT High Court.
Having become aware of the suit, Okafor approached the court seeking to set aside the entire proceedings as well as any order emanating there from and for injunctive orders against INEC in respect of Ehimembano/Iiteuboma/Obowo Constituency of Imo State.
While the said application was pending for hearing, Nwajuba, who contested and lost the election to Okafor, approached the FCT High Court on April 29, to compel INEC to enforce its ruling delivered of February 12.
Consequently, the electoral body in compliance with the said ruling of the FCT High Court issued a certificate of return to Nwajuba as the elected member.