The Independent National Electoral commission (INEC) has been urged to issue Senator Ifeanyi Araraume Certificate of Return, for winning the December 5, 2020, Imo North senatorial by-election. Three lawyers made the call at a press conference in Abuja.
They said since the Federal High Court in Owerri and Abuja had upheld the disqualification of Mr Frank Ibezim by the all Progressives Congress (APC) screening committee before the election, INEC should not hesitate to give Araraume the certificate of return.
The lawyers insisted that since Araraume filed a notice of appeal and a motion for stay of execution in the Supreme Court on the judgment of the Appeal Court, which had pronounced Ibezim winner of the APC primaries, nobody could remove his name for that of Ibezim who has been banned.
One of the lawyers, Chief KC Nwufo (SAN) said: “Ibezim must appeal against the judgment of Justice Inyang Ekwo of Abuja Federal High Court, which banned him before he can contest any other election. Until this is done, INEC cannot even recognise Ibezim as a candidate, not to talk of giving him Certificate of Return.”
Another lawyer, Victor Giwa, warned that it would amount to “an illegality of monumental proportion” for INEC to regard Ibezim as a candidate in the by-election.
A former governorship aspirant, Chief Philip Ibekwe, described the judgment against Ibezim as “statutory impediments, which would make a mess of any attempt to recognise Ibezim as APC candidate in the Imo North Senatorial by-election.”
He insisted that Ibezim “must appeal against this judgment first before he can contest election or hold public office in Nigeria.”
Former presidential candidate, Godson Okoye, advised Araraume to pursue his case with courage and determination. State chairman of APC, Chief Daniel Nwafor, said the party was on the side of Araraume and would join him to get justice.