Law News
Judicial stroke settles Enugu PDP Gov race

The primary conducted at the Nnamdi Azikwe Stadium, supervised by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and presided over by the chairman of the party’s Electoral Panel, King Asara Asara had conferred victory of the governorship primary in the state to Mr. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, having won over 900 votes out of 1,008 votes cast during the exercise.

One of the governorship aspirants, Senator Ayogu Eze representing Enugu-North senatorial zone had disagreed with the process leading to the primary citing irregularities in the delegates list to be used for the contest.

Eze, however, was at separate primary conducted at Filbon Hotel, New Haven where he was the only aspirant and emerged winner of the exercise. Eze had quickly filed a suit at the Federal High Court, Abuja Division presided over by Justice Evoh Chukwu seeking through his counsel Mr. Yusuf Ali, SAN, to be declared the rightful candidate of the party.

Rightful candidate

Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi

Eze had in his suit, number FHC/ABJ/CS/2014, prayed the court to restrain ‘’the PDP, the National Working Committee, NWC, and INEC, by themselves, agents, officers, officials, privies or representatives and other person whatsoever, deriving authority from them from submitting, forwarding or sending the names of any other person other than himself, as their duly elected governorship candidate for 2015 governorship election in Enugu state, pending the final determination of the substantive case.”

He also asked for an order restraining INEC, its agents, privies, or representatives from recognising, accepting or giving effect to the name of any other person other than himself as the governorship candidate of the PDP and the National Working Committee, NWC, of the party for Enugu state governorship election in 2015.

He told the court that PDP had conducted ward congresses in Enugu state on November 1, 2014 ,as a result of which a list of delegates for the conduct of primary election for the governorship candidate of the party emerged consisting of names of the elected delegates. According to him, the list was sanctioned and authenticated by the Federal High Court, Abuja, in suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/816/2014, which judgement was delivered on November 24, 2014.

Eze contended that he emerged as the governorship candidate of the party based on the correct delegates list sanctioned by the same court, adding, however, that the defendants were bent on sending another person other than his name to INEC as their chosen governorship candidate for the said 2015 election.

“If the defendants were not restrained from doing so, pending the determination of this case, the judgement of the court will be rendered nugatory,” he pleaded.

He further urged the court to, among other things, determine “whether having regard to the provisions of the 1999 Constitution as amended, Sections 85 to 87 of the Electoral Act 2011 as amended, the electoral guidelines for primary elections 2014, the defendants could jettison, set aside, refuse to use or in any other manner ignore the result of the ward congresses held on November 1, 2014, where ad-hoc delegates from the 260 wards of Enugu state were elected in the conduct of the primary elections to elect the governorship candidate of the PDP for the general elections in April 11.

Palpable anxiety

However, the delivery of judgement in the suit which was slated for February 24 but was deferred twice without a any reason had set tongues wagging even as palpable anxiety hung gripped all stakeholders.

•Eze: Claiming victory

The judgement which was to determine between the duo laying claims to the governorship ticket of the PDP in the state, having emerged from two parallel primary elections that held in the state was finally delivered on March 2.

Justice Chukwu in his judgement that lasted for over two hours validated the candidature of Ugwuanyi as the authentic candidate of the party for the April 11 election.

He affirmed that the court presided over by Justice A. Ademola never sanctioned or authenticated the delegates list that Ayogu claimed to be the authentic delegates list.

The news of the judgement filtered into the state around 3 pm and was greeted with jubilation from the camp of Ugwuanyi. It quickly dispelled the gloomy cloud of anxiety in the state paving way for the “Consolidation and Continuity” agenda of Ugwuanyi whose nomination has received a kind of an unusual endorsement from most political power brokers in the state.

The Publicity Secretary, of the party in the state, Mr. Okey Eze said, “We have never had any doubts that we religiously complied with extant laws, party guidelines, and all due process in the nomination of Hon. Ugwuanyi as our flag bearer.

“It is therefore gladdening that the Court has vindicated the party and affirmed the candidature of Hon. Ugwuanyi.”

He therefore invited Senator Eze to join the mass movement to enthrone Ugwuanyi as governor. As at press time there were unverified claims about Eze heeding the invitation given reports that he may appeal the judgment.

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