January 27, 2023

Abia Central senatorial poll: S-Court affirms Onuigbo as APC candidate

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri

The Supreme Court, on Friday, affirmed Mr. Samuel Onuigbo as candidate of the All progressives Congress, APC, for the Abia Central Senatorial District election.

The apex court, in a unanimous decision by a five-member panel of Justices, dismissed an appeal that was filed by an aggrieved aspirant for the Senatorial ticket, Chief Emeka Atuma.

In the lead judgement that was delivered by Justice Emmanuel Agim, the apex court held that the appeal marked: SC/CV/1626/2022, lacked merit.

Consequently, the Supreme Court upheld the earlier judgment of the Court of Appeal in Owerri, which had on October 4, 2022, declared Onuigbo as the authentic Senatorial flag-bearer of the APC, instead of Atuma.

The appellate held that it found no reason to nullify the nomination of Onuigbo as candidate of the party and the bonafide winner of the primary election the APC conducted on May 28, 2022.

It will be recalled that shortly after Onuigbo was returned winner of the primary election, Atuma, who was the first runner-up at the poll, started laying claims to the senatorial ticket.

Atuma maintained that he emerged from a fresh poll that was held on June 7, 2022, alleging that the initial primary election was cancelled by the national leadership of the party.

He, therefore, approached the party to submit his name to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, as its nominee.

However, in a bid to retain his ticket following alleged moves to substitute his name, Onuigbo, took the matter before the Federal High Court.

He had among other reliefs, sought a declaration that by virtue of Sections 29(1) and 84 of the Electoral Act 2022, Atuma did not participate in the processes leading to the conduct of the Abia Central Senatorial primary.

Onuigbo further argued that the APC headquarters officially received the result of the primary that produce him, which he said was signed by the Chairman and Secretary of the National Assembly Primary Election Committee.

In its judgement on Friday, the apex court upheld Onuigbo’s case and accordingly dismissed the appeal against his candidacy.

Justice Agim held that all the parties in the matter should bear their respective cost.