By Ikechukwu Nnochiri, Abuja
The Abuja division of the Court of Appeal, presided over by Justice Mary Odili, Friday, ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), not to recognise Prof. Chukwuma Charles Soludo as the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the February 6, 2010 governorship election in Anambra state, pending the hearing and determination of a suit before it, challenging his nomination.
The appellate courtÂ further ordered the embattled former Central Bank governor to desist forthwith from solicitingÂ votes or parading himself as the partyâ€™s candidate untilÂ Â the controversy trailing his nomination process is finally resolved.Â The court saidÂ that status_quo ante_bellum should be maintained by all the parties in the matter.
Justice Odili who gave the interim injunction in a short ruling yesterday after counsel to the appellants, Mr. Sani Abubakar, drew the attention of the court to the fact that Soludo had already flagged_off his political campaign despite the subsisting appeal challenging his nomination wasÂ adjournedÂ till the 14th of this month.
Reacting to the court order at the end of proceeding yesterday, counsel to Soludo, Chief Patrick Ikweato (SAN), described it as strange and curious, alleging that it was madeÂ by the judges themselves.
He said that he would apply for a copy of the ruling to enable him to advise Soludo accordingly.
He had earlier relied on the decided case law of Nwosu Vs Nnajiuba to plead with the court not to concede to the request of the appellants, adding that it should not allow itself to be used as â€œengine of operation and hardship in stopping a process of democratic governance.â€
Similarly, counsel to the PDP, Chief Oke, who is also the partyâ€™s National Legal Adviser, said yesterday that what the court did was simply to tie the hands of the PDP and to force the INEC to reverse an already concluded action, insisting that the party would also look at the ruling critically.
The four appellants who are contesting Soludoâ€™s nomination are Mr. Valentine Ozigboh, Mrs. Victoria Nwankwo, Mrs. Nkoli Imo and Mr. Ferdinand Okoye.
They had approached the appellate court with a view to reversing the decision of trial Justice Danlami Senchi, who on November 15 struck out their suit challenging the legality of the process adopted by the PDP in choosing Soludo as its candidate for the said election.
They are contending that the Judge erred in law by declining jurisdiction to entertain the matter they said bothered on an alleged breach of both the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Electoral Act of 2006 and Article 17 of the PDP electoral guidelines.