By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, on Wednesday, declined to sack Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State from office over allegation that he was illegally nominated by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to contest the April 11, 2015, governorship election.
In a unanimous judgment, three-man panel of Justices of the appellate court led by Justice Tinuade Akomolafe-Wilson, struck out lthe appeal marked CA/A/157/2015, which was lodged by a chieftain of the PDP in the state, Senator Anyogu Eze.
Eze had prayed the appellate court to remove Ugwuanyi from office on the premise that he was not validly nominated by the PDP for the gubernatorial contest the gubernatorial election.
He told the court that Ugwuanyi emerged from a kangaroo primary election he said was conducted on December 8 by some leaders of the party.
The appellant, through his lead counsel, Mr. Adebayo Adelodun, SAN, insisted that Ugwuanyi was merely handpicked by some persons at the National Headquarters of the party in Abuja, alleging that the purported primary election was organised with fake list of delegates.
He argued that the primary poll that produced Ugwuanyi was in breach of section 87(4)(b)(I) of the Electoral Act.
Eze who is laying claim to the PDP governorship ticket in Enugu State having merged through a parallel primary election, prayed the court to set aside the judgment of Justice Evoh Chukwu of the Federal High Court in Abuja which dismissed his suit on March 2, 2015.
He urged the court to not only okay the parallel primary election that produced him, but to also declare him as the authentic governorship candidate of the party in Enugu State.
However, governor Ugwuanyi, through his lead counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, prayed the appellate court to dismiss the pre-election case which he said was bereft of merit.
Ugwuanyi equally filed an appeal marked CA/A/157b/2015, wherein he challenged validity of the parallel primary election that produced Eze.
He argued that Eze lacked the locus-standi to query his ticket since he did not participate in the primary conducted by the National Working Committee of the PDP.
He told the appellate court that Eze walked out on the committee and refused to participate in the primary.
Ugwuanyi further exhibited result of the primary he said was sanctioned by national leadership of the party. The document contained names of all the governorship aspirants, including Eze.
His lawyer, Olanipekun, SAN, explained to the court that though the document contained Eze’s name, he said no result was credited to him considering that he boycotted the process alongside another aspirant, Dr. Samuel Maduka Onyishi, who is the owner of Peace Mass Transit Limited.
In its judgment, the appellate court held that under section 87 of the Electoral Act, Eze, lacked the locus-standi to challenge Ugwuanyi’s nomination having admitted that he did not participate in the primary that was conducted by the King Asara Asara led electoral panel of the PDP.
It stressed that the trial high court ought to have dismissed the case for want of jurisdiction.
“This appeal lacks merit and it is hereby dismissed. There is no order as to cost. The decision of the trial court is hereby upheld. However, in view of the fact that the trial court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the case in the first place, the appeal is therefore accordingly struck out”, the court held.