Legal arguments were taken yesterday at the Court of Appeal, Owerri Division, in the appeal filed by Frank Ibezim against the judgment of the Federal High Court, Owerri Division, Justice T.G. Ringim delivered on November 6, 2020.
The Appeal Court’s special panel is headed by Justice Uche Onyemenam.
Frank Ibezim was represented by Oluwaseun Olusiyi while Ifeanyi Ararume was represented by K.C Nwufor amongst other counsel that represented the other parties including the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Counsel to Frank Ibezim adumbrated on the grounds of appeal filed and emphasised principally on the injustice meted to his client by the Federal High Court, Owerri Division, by passing a judgment and making consequential orders against his client in a suit in which his client was not a party and neither was there an order of court joining him to the suit in order to avail him the opportunity of stating his case.
Olusiyi emphasised that his client was denied fair hearing, which is a fundamental right and that it is an injustice of monumental proportion for the Federal High Court to order his replacement as candidate of APC in the Imo North senatorial district bye-election without hearing from him.
Olusiyi equally raised legal issues on the impropriety of the court disqualifying Ibezim and directing the submission of Ararume’s name as APC candidate for the election, when those issues were never canvassed and did not form part of reliefs sought in the suit in which the order was made.
He cited legal authorities in support of his position and further said the issue of party primary and choice of a candidate is the internal affair of a political party and therefore not justiciable.
Nwufo laboured to justify the judgment as delivered by the Federal High Court and while conceding that Ibezim was not a party to the suit giving rise to the appeal, stated that he was privy and had knowledge of the pendency of that suit.
APC, in its submission maintained that from available records, Ibezim was winner of its September 3 primaries in Imo State and his name had been submitted to INEC.
The Court of Appeal after listening to the arguments of the parties through their respective counsel, reserved judgment to a later date to be communicated in due course.
Meanwhile the by-election will be conducted on Saturday, December 5 by INEC for a total of 14 candidates representing different parties.
While Ibezim and Ararume are rounding off their campaigns on the platform of APC, it is obvious that if APC wins the election, the court will finally determine which candidate picks the ticket between the two.