Magnus Eze, Enugu
The Court of Appeal, Enugu Judicial Division has affirmed the election of Chief Victor Umeh of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) as senator for Anambra Central.
The appellate court, in a unanimous decision yesterday, dismissed the appeal by Nkem Ekweozor of Mega Peoples Progressives Party (MPPP).
Ekweozor, had challenged the judgment of the Election Petition Tribunal for Anambra Central, which upheld Umeh’s victory in the January 13, 2018 senatorial rerun.
The MPPP’s candidate in the rerun, had claimed Umeh was not validly elected by majority of lawful votes cast at the election and that the election was marred by corrupt practices.
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He alleged that Umeh was not qualified to contest the election, since he got his nomination while still occupying the position of national chairman of APGA.
Umeh, APGA and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were joined as 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents respectively.
The appellant had prayed the court to order INEC to conduct a fresh election and that Umeh should be disqualified from the fresh election.
The three-man appeal panel, headed by Justice Uwani Musa Abba Aji, while delivering judgment, noted that the appellant had made no reference to any particular primary election conducted by the second respondent (APGA), from which Umeh emerged as the candidate.
The lead judgment held that the appellant’s complaints on the issue of nomination of the first respondent, Umeh, “are at large and ex facie.”
According to him, there was no dispute on the primary election of the second respondent, APGA, which produced Umeh as its candidate.
Citing relevant authorities, the judge stated that the appellant’s averments in his petition bother on matters of mere conjecture and speculation, which the court or tribunal does not have jurisdiction to act on.
Justice Abba Aji, further warned that a court should desist from indulging in speculation, as it is not part of judicial exercise but a mere guess work.
He stated that the law, as settled by decisions of the Supreme Court, is that the issues of primary election, nomination and sponsorship of a person as the candidate of a political party “are definitely pre-election matters.”
The judge said the tribunal was right when it held that it was not clothed with the jurisdiction to look into the complaints raised by the petitioner, which relate to the nomination, sponsorship and candidature of the first respondent.
“The decision to inquire into the conduct of primary election by political parties resides in the Federal High Court, the High Court of a state or the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory as donated by section 87 (9) of Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended),” he said.
While dismissing the appeal in its totality, he said it in was devoid of any form of merit.
Two other justices, Moore Adumein and Joseph Oyewole, concurred with the lead judgment, while the court asked all the parties in the matter to bear their respective costs.