The Supreme Court, on Thursday put a final seal on the disputed candidacy of the All Progressives Grand Alliance(APGA) for the November 6, governorship election in Anambra state by affirming the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Prof. Charles Soludo, as the party’s standard bearer for the polls.
In a unanimous decision by a five-member panel of Justices led by Mary Odili, the apex court upheld the judgement of the Kano State Division of the Court of Appeal, which validated the primary election that produced Soludo.
Soludo’s nomination had been accepted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as candidate of APGA in the November 6 governorship election.
Mr Jude Okeke, however, challenged the authenticity of the Oye leadership at a Federal High Court in Jigawa where Judgment was given in his favour.
However, the Jigawa judgment was set aside by the Appeal Court leading him to proceed to the Supreme Court to nullify the appellate court’s decision.
Justice Hamma Zamani of the Kano Division of the Court of Appeal had on Aug. 10 in his judgment, set aside the judgment of a Jigawa High Court, which had earlier declared Jude Okeke and Chukwuma Umeoji as APGA’s National Chairman and governorship candidate respectively.
The appellate court held that the trial court erred by entertaining a suit wherein it lacked jurisdiction.
In their unanimous decision, the seven member panel, resolved the issue against the appellant.
Delivering judgment in the appeal, the apex court in a unanimous judgment held that the internal issue of political parties’ was outside the jurisdiction of courts.
The Supreme Court held that the decisions of the appellate court in quashing the judgment of a Jigawa State High Court that recognised a parallel primary election that was conducted by the Jude Okeke-led faction of APGA, was legally correct.
The former CBN governor emerged from the primary election that was organised by the Chief Victor Oye-led faction of the party.
The apex court also returned Chief Victor Oye as the national chairman of the party.
The appeal filed by one Jude Okeke was dismissed on the ground of being an abuse of court process and lacking in merit and substance.
Justice Mary Odili who delivered the lead judgment awarded a sum of one million naira against Jude Okeke to be paid to APGA and Victor Oye.
The apex court lambasted the appellants for engaging in forum shopping and crass abusing of court process to get favourable judgment to suit their own purposes.
The unanimous judgment also took swipe at Okeke and some lawyers for attempting to mislead the court through multiple cases over the same subject matters.
Justice Odili noted that the appellants in the desperate bid to abuse the court moved their cases from Anambra states to Imo and later to Jigawaa where they eventually got judgment in their favour on March 31, 2021.
The Jigawa High Court judgment delivered in March was however voided and set aside by the Court of Appeal, Kano division on March 8, 2021 on the ground that the High court of Jigawaa lacked jurisdiction to have entertained the suit.
Justice Odili upheld the Court of Appeal decision that the Jigawaa high court lacked jurisdiction and the setting aside of the court’s finding.
The Supreme Court also agreed that the election of officers of political officers was an internal affair of respective parties and cannot be challenged in court.
Meanwhile, the panel held that the application for joinder by Chief Edozie Njoku was irrelevant since it had been overtaken by events and consequently dismissed it.
The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja had in September ordered INEC to recognize Soludo as candidate of the APGA in the Nov. 6 Anambra governorship elections.