By Ise-Oluwa Ige & Emma Ovuakporie
ABUJAâ€”The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal yesterday issued an interlocutory order stopping the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, from recognising, accepting, endorsing or ratifying the selection of Professor Chukwumah Soludo as the flagbearer of the Peoplesâ€™ Democratic Party, PDP, in next February 6 gubernatorial election in Anambra State.
Soludo was the immediate past governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, before his incursion into politics.
The appellate court also stopped Soludo from parading himself as PDPâ€™s gubernatorial candidate for the election.
The court, in a unanimous judgment, yesterday, said its order would subsist until the determination of a pending substantive appeal filed by four PDP members against Soludoâ€™s nomination.
Mr. Valentine Ozigboh, Mrs. Victoria Nwankwo, Mrs. Nkoli Imo and Mr. Ferdinand Okoye commenced the action which shattered Soludoâ€™s political ambition to rule Anambra State.
Justice Mary Odili prepared the lead ruling.
Although she was absent in court, yesterday, Justice Oyebode Sodipe read the verdict of the court on her behalf.
Two other justices of the court – Mohammed Aboki and Olukayode Bada- concurred with the lead ruling.
However, PDP yesterday filed a notice of appeal before the Supreme Court to contest the verdict of the Appeal Court.
Verdict shocks PDP
It was evident that the party had anticipated that it would lose the case because copies of the notice of appeal were circulated moments after the Court of Appeal delivered its verdict.
In fact, the partyâ€™s lead counsel, Chief Olusola Oke, never stepped out of the court room when Vanguard obtained a copy of the notice of appeal which was duly signed by him.
Although parties in the case are expected to appear before the Supreme Court this morning over the interim order earlier granted by the Appeal Court stopping Soludo from parading himself as PDPâ€™s candidate for the election, it is doubtful if the apex court would be able to hear the case today in view of the new development.
The implication is that PDP may lose its chance of fielding any candidate for the gubernatorial poll.
Soludoâ€™s lead counsel, Chief P.I.N. Ikwueto, SAN, had expressed shock at the verdict of the Court of Appeal.
He told newsmen yesterday that he would take an appropriate action on the issue.
He, however, begged the court to release a copy of its ruling to him so that his client would be able to formally report back to the Supreme Court as ordered by it during the week.
Oke, yesterday, also told newsmen that he found it difficult to agree with the position of the Court of Appeal in the matter.
He said since he could not reverse it, the best he could do was to ensure full and effective prosecution of the partyâ€™s appeal before the apex court.
INEC ‘ll honour court verdict
Meantime, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, yesterday said it would obey the court’s ruling on Soludo.
INEC’s Director of Public Affairs, Mr. Emmanuel Umenger, told correspondents in Abuja that INEC, as a law-abiding institution, would not do anything that would be contrary to the law.
â€œThe commission is an agent of the law and is bound to abide by the law of the land in every aspect and respect to the commission,â€ Umenger said.