*Clears APC’s Andy Uba
By Ernest Omoarelojie
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, wielded the hammers on Friday as it removed the name of former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Prof Charles Soludo as governorship candidate of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA. In Soludo’s place, the commission substituted it with Chukwuma Michael Umeoji and Orogbu Obiageli as the governorship and deputy governorship candidates of the party.
The electoral empire left blank the column for the name of the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, citing court order as reasons for the removal. However, the commission cleared Emmanuel Andy Ubah and and Johnbosco Okechukwu Anaedobe as the governorship and deputy governorship candidates of the All Progressives Congress, APC. The Commission is however, silent on the controversy and court order against the APC candidate’s emergence from the party primaries.
In a statement signed by the Commission’s Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, Barr Festus Okoye, INEC noted that it met on Thursday, July 15, 2021 and, among other things, considered the list and personal particulars of candidates nominated by the various political parties for the Anambra State Governorship election scheduled to hold on 6th November 2021 and opted to act in consonance with constitutional and legal provisions and and will continue to obey the court orders and judgments duly served on it. According to Barr Okoye,,
“The Commission also considered and took cognizance of the Judgments/Court Orders served on it in relation to the primaries of the political parties and other processes leading to the election. In line with section 31(3) of the Electoral Act, 2010, as amended, the personal particulars of the candidates will be published in the Commissions Notice Board in Awka, Anambra State while the names of the candidates, their gender, party, age, qualification and the Commissions decision/ remarks are herein attached.
The Commission will continue to act in consonance with the Constitution and the law and will continue to obey the judgments and orders of courts served on it.”
Barr Okoye revealed that INEC opted to leave the PDP column blank following a valid court order. According to Okoye, one Valentine Ozigbo, who asked for various orders relating to the governorship election in Anambra state, including an order restraining the fourth defendant, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, from tempering with the name of the claimant/applicant already submitted to the 2nd defendant, INEC, as it’s candidate for the governorship election fixed for November 6, 2021.
Ozigbo is also reported to have asked the court for a mandatory order of injunction mandating the 2nd defendant, INEC, to publish the name of the claimant already submitted as candidate of the 4th defendant, PDP. The court refused the demands but the court granted an accelerated hearing which must be concluded before the commission can publish any name.
“The commission was asked to adhere to status quo and not to act against the matter that was in court. Thereafter, we also received another court order from the high Court of the Federal Capital Territory filed by Valentine Ozigbo who claimed that he was the claimant/applicant against the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and INEC and he asked for various orders relating to the governorship election in Anambra state.
The court refused almost all the orders he asked for. First of all, he asked for restraining order restraining the fourth defendant, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, from tempering with the name of the claimant/applicant already submitted to the 2nd defendant, INEC, as it’s candidate for the governorship election fixed for November 6, 2021.
He also asked for a mandatory order of injunction mandating the 2nd defendant, INEC, to publish the name of the claimant already submitted as candidate of the 4th defendant, PDP. The refused both demands but the court granted an accelerated hearing,” Barr Okoye revealed.
The case with APGA appears peculiar. While foreclosing the possibility of any party substituting any candidate’s name, INEC posited however, that it will publish a different name other than the one it already published if a valid court order mandates it to so do. It added that it published the name of Chukwuma Michael Umeoji as the party’s candidate on the basis of a valid court order which recognizes Chief Jude Okeke as the acting national chairman of the party and who also submitted Umeoji’s name from a primary duly witnessed by the commission.
“In the case of APGA, we acted on the basis of two court orders, one from Jigawa state which affirmed that Chief Jude Okeke was the acting national chairman of the party. In the judgement, INEC was mandated to relate with the faction and also give cognizance to any party primary organized or conducted under the leadership. The judgement has not been upturned. But if a valid court order comes up tomorrow telling us that the candidate whose name we’ve published is no longer the candidate, and another candidate’s name is given, we will definitely comply,” Barr Okoye disclosed