By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – The Supreme Court, on Friday, declined to remove 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.
The apex court dismissed as lacking in merit, the suit which was lodged by a chieftain of the PDP in the state, Senator Anyogu Eze.
In a unanimous verdict, a five-man panel of Justices of the apex court resolved all the issues against the appellant, even as it upheld the judgement of the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal which earlier affirmed Ugwuanyi’s election victory.
The apex court panel which was presided by Justice Kayode Ariwola, berated the appellant for raising issues it said was previously decided, saying there was no point re-litigating on issue bordering on the primary election that produced Ugwuanyi.
According to the court, by the provision of section 87 (4) and (9), the appellant who did not participate in the said primary election, lacked the locus-standi to query the outcome.
“There is no substance in this appeal and it is accordingly dismissed”.
The apex court further awarded N1million cost against the appellant, in favour of Ugwuanyi who was cited as the 4th Respondent.
Eze had in his appeal marked SC/248/2017, prayed the apex court to sack Ugwuanyi from office on the premise that he was not validly nominated by the PDP for the gubernatorial election.
He told the court that Ugwuanyi emerged from a kangaroo primary election he said was conducted on December 8, 2014, by some leaders of the party.
The appellant 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 laid claim to the PDP governorship ticket in Enugu State having merged through a parallel primary election, prayed the court to set aside the decision of the Court of Appeal which validated the March 2, 2015, judgment of Justice Evoh Chukwu of the Federal High Court in Abuja which dismissed his suit.
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 challenged the competence of the suit, even as he prayed the court to dismiss the pre-election case for want of merit.
Ugwuanyi 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 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.
He told the court that no result was credited to Eze since he boycotted the process alongside another aspirant, Dr. Samuel Maduka Onyishi, who is the owner of Peace Mass Transit Limited.