By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA–The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Monday, reserved its judgement on a suit seeking to nullify the governorship primary election the All Progressives Congress, APC, conducted in Anambra state.
The suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/648/2021, was brought before the court by an aggrieved APC governorship aspirant in the state, Mr. George Moghalu.
The Plaintiff alleged that the party had in violation of its constitution and guidelines, handpicked Senator Andy Uba in a kangaroo primary election he said was conducted around 6pm on June 26.
Moghalu, who was among 14 aspirants that purchased forms to contest the Anambra governorship election on the platform of the APC, told the court that the said process that produced Uba, took place after all other aspirants and officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had left the venue.
He accused the party of acting in breach of mandatory provision of Article 18 of its guidelines, which he said stipulated that accreditation for such primary election must start by 8am and end by 2pm.
Consequently, he urged the court to nullify the APC primary election and order a fresh one.
Other reliefs the Plaintiff is seeking in the suit he filed on July 8, included an order, compelling the INEC to expunge the name of both Uba and the APC from the list of names of political parties and candidates cleared to participate in the governorship poll slated for November 6, or any subsequent postponement.
He urged the court to determine, whether a political party that fails to comply with the provisions of the Electoral Act (2010), the party’s constitution and its guidelines, by purporting to conduct a primary election without accreditation of voters, actual voting or casting of votes, collation of votes and announcement of results based on actual votes cast and counted, can validly field a candidate for the election.
More so, the Plaintiff, through his team of lawyers led by Chief Chris Uche, SAN, wants the court to declare that, by virtue of the APC’s alleged non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 and the party’s regulations and guidelines in the conduct of its primary in Anambra State, Uba “is not a candidate at the said 6th November 2021 gubernatorial election or at any subsequent postponement.”
He applied for a declaration of the court that the APC was bound to comply with all the relevant legal provisions in the conduct of its primary election after having demanded and received N22.5million from him and other 13 aspirants.
As well as, a declaration of the court that having failed to comply with the relevant applicable laws, the APC, has no candidate for the forthcoming governorship election.
Aside from demanding a refund of the N22.5million he paid for the expression of interest and nomination forms, the Plaintiff, prayed the court to restrain Uba from holding himself out or parading himself as the candidate of the APC in the said election.
Cited as 1st to 3rd Defendants in the matter are the APC, INEC and Uba.
Meanwhile, both APC and Uba, in their respective preliminary objections, urged the court to dismiss the suit with substantial cost.
Adopting his final brief of argument on Monday, counsel to the APC, Mr. Vincent Otaokpukpu, argued that the Plaintiff failed to substantiate his allegation that it did not conduct a valid primary election.
APC argued that it has the exclusive right to chose its flag-bearer, insisting that no report from INEC could invalidate an election conducted by a political party.
Likewise, Uba’s lawyer, Mr. Mahmud Magaji, SAN, argued that Moghalu, having admitted that he did not participate in the primary election, lacked the locus standi to challenge its outcome.
INEC neither filed any process nor sent a legal representative in the matter.
After all the parties adopted their final briefs of argument, Justice Inyang Ekwo held that judgement of the court would be delivered on or before December 20.