February 4, 2023

Senate: Victor Umeh goes to Appeal Court over disqualification

Victor Umeh


E senatorial candidate of the Labour Party, LP, for Anambra Central for the February 25 general elections, Senator Victor Umeh has appealed the judgment of the Federal High Court, Awka which disqualified him as the candidate of the party.

Umeh was dragged to the court by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and Mrs. Uche Ekwunife, the senatorial candidate of the PDP on the ground that he did not resign from All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, before picking the ticket or LP.

In an interview, Umeh said he was surprised at the judgement delivered by Justice Ngajiwa as he believed that PDP and Ekwunife have no business in the primaries of another political party and therefore have no locus to challenge the outcome of primaries of Labour Party.

He said: “The law is settled that only candidates or aspirants who participated in the primaries of that party have locus to challenge the outcome for any reason whatsoever. 

“it is not open to members of the party who did not take part in the primary to institute any action, how much more non members of the party, in this care PDP and Uche Ekwunife.

“So for ruling that they have locus with which he jumped into the matter to be able to go on a fluoric and manufacture reasons to disqualify me was gravely in error. 

“If you don’t have locus to make an action, you do not have jurisdiction to hear the matter.

“Another thing is that their suit was status barred as it was filed out of time from the processes they served us their suit bore the filing date 5th of October in the face of the processes.

“We raised preliminary objection that the suit was status barred from the date of their complaint as it was more than 14 days. 

“Their compliant was published on 20th of September, 2022 and counting from that date, it would have been 3rd of October, 2022 for them to file within time. 

“But they did not only to come on the 5th of October and filed, we also raised objection that PDP and Uche Ekwunife are not members of LP.

“On the date the matter was called up, counsel to Uche Ekwunife said he filed on 30th of September and thus sparked off roar in the court and all the defense counsel objected because it was filed on 5th of October.

“On 8th December the counsels adopted their briefs and adjourned to 26th of January for ruling.

“But when I saw a hand of mischief in the whole thing, I made sure that I obtained certified true copy of the receipts with which the suit was filed, which is called oral remittal which can never be altered. It was then that we discovered that the suit was filed on the 6th of October.

We also discovered that the affidavit sworn to by one Victor Okpoko was on 5th of October which showed that the case was filed out of time.

Surprisingly, the judge ruled that they have locus to challenge the primaries of the LP which to us is a miscarriage of justice. There are Supreme Court decisions on matter like this. 

“It was a shock to us because this same judge had ruled in similar cases in the past and described those who filed the suit as meddlesome interlopers.”

Umeh explained that he joined APGA at the ward level and left the party at that level.

“If you look at the orders the judge made, one would think that I am a criminal. For instance, he ordered that I should not parade myself as candidate of labour party. 

“He also awarded N2m damages for what he called exemplary damages, as if I was the one that brought the matter to court, ” Umeh said.