Ugwuanyi’s Knock-out Punch on Eze

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Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi

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Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has eased Senator Ayogu Eze out of the political contest in the Enugu gubernatorial race as the federal high court in Abuja declares him the Peoples Democratic Party Candidate in the forthcoming election on April 11

By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Mar. 16, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT  |

A FEDERAL High Court sitting in Abuja, has truncated the governorship ambition of Senator Ayogu Eze in the forthcoming guber race in Enugu State. The court on Monday, March 1, declared Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi as the Enugu State governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in elections. The court, presided over by Justice Evoh Chukwu, gave the ruling after dismissing a suit filed by Eze challenging the emergence of Ugwuanyi.

In a 55-page judgment that lasted for more than two hours, the court said from the allegations made, it was only one governorship primary election that was conducted in Enugu State on December 8, under the watchful eyes of the national officers of the PDP. The court said Senator Eze’s suit did not succeed as he failed to show how any section of the constitution or the Electoral Act as well as PDP guidelines for the conduct of gubernatorial primary election was breached or violated.

Justice Chukwu held that the power to conduct party primaries rests solely on the National Executive Committee, NEC, of the party and not the state executives of the party. He further held that Eze failed to show any evidence indicating that NEC of the PDP conducted the primary he claimed was the authentic one.

Senator Eze, a governorship aspirant, had gone to court to challenge the delegates list used for the conduct of the election that produced Ugwuanyi on the grounds that another Federal High Court, presided over by Justice Adeniyi Ademola, had in November 2014 sanctioned the list produced by an ad-hoc delegates election duly conducted by the party in the state, which elected him in a parallel primary.

Eze, through his counsel, Patrick Ikwueto, argued that the list presented by the panel of the NEC of the party headed by King Asara A. Asara, was illegal. He added that he participated in the primary with the authentic delegates list. He, therefore, urged the court to hold that the PDP by ignoring, refusing and/or neglecting to receive and act on the result of the ad-hoc delegates list, breached Article 2 and 3 of the PDP Electoral Guidelines for Primary Election 2014, Section 87 (1) and (2) of the Electoral Act and Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution.

But Justice Chukwu upheld the submissions of Onyechi Ikpeazu, counsel to PDP, and ruled that the judgment of Justice Ademola did not embody a mandatory order to use the delegates list from the ad-hoc delegates election, noting that there was no breach of Section 87 (4) (b) of the Electoral Act. He added that there was nothing before the court to show that any list was sanctioned.

Ayogu Eze
Ayogu Eze

But the PDP told the court that the plaintiff emerged through a kangaroo primary election which they said was not certified by the NWC of the party. They told the court that Eze actually came to the venue where the authentic primary election that produced Ugwuanyi was conducted, but stormed out with some of his supporters to another venue to conduct the parallel primary poll where he was declared winner. PDP refuted the allegation that it jettisoned a list of delegates that was originally approved by the court, saying it was never at any time mandated by any court judgment to stick to any particular list of delegates. “The court only upheld the list of those that emerged from the November 1, delegates’ election, it did not make an order that the list must be used,” PDP argued.

Reacting to the court judgement, the state chapter of PDP has expressed satisfaction with the judgment. “PDP is a party founded on the principles of justice, equity, inclusiveness and respect for rule of law and democratic tenets. We have never had any doubts that we religiously complied with extant laws, party guidelines and due process in the nomination of Ugwuanyi as our standard bearer.

“It is therefore gladdening that the court has vindicated the party and affirmed the candidature of Ugwuanyi. The judiciary, by this verdict has, once more, shown itself as the last hope of the common man and the bulwark of the nation’s democracy. We hope that this has finally laid to rest any misgivings and contentions over the December 8, 2014, PDP governorship primary election in the state as we invite our brother, Senator Eze, and all the gubernatorial aspirants to join the mass movement for Ugwuanyi’s governorship come May 29, 2015, in the spirit of brotherhood and in the interest of the party and the state,” the party said.

The State PDP stated that good governance and development of the state are paramount, adding that democratic governance was a huge responsibility; and there will certainly be prominent roles for all to play towards the betterment of the state. “We use this opportunity to express heartfelt appreciation to the leader of the party in the state and the state Governor, Sullivan Chime and the good people of state who have stood gallantly in solidarity with the state PDP and our candidate.” It therefore urged them to vote for PDP in the March 28 and April 11 elections as well as President Jonathan and Ugwuanyi in the spirit of continuity and consolidation.

Senate Eze, who was laying claim to the governorship ticket of the PDP in Enugu State, having emerged from a parallel primary election that held in the state, filed the case challenging the recognition of Ugwanyi as the candidate of the ruling party. He insisted that the primary elections that produced him were duly monitored by officials of the INEC. He had in his suit, number FHC/ABJ/CS/2014, prayed the court to restrain the PDP, the National Working Committee, NWC, and INEC, by themselves, agents, officers, officials, privies or representatives and other person whatsoever, deriving authority from them from submitting, forwarding or sending the names of any other person other than himself, as their duly elected governorship candidate for 2015 governorship election in Enugu State, pending the final determination of the substantive case.

He also asked for an order restraining INEC, its agents, privies, or representatives from recognising, accepting or giving effect to the name of any other person other than himself as the governorship candidate of the PDP and the NWC, of the party for Enugu State governorship election in 2015. He told the court that PDP had conducted ward congresses in Enugu State on November 1, 2014, as a result of which a list of delegates for the conduct of primary election for the governorship candidate of the party emerged consisting of names of the elected delegates. According to him, the list was sanctioned and authenticated by the Federal High Court, Abuja, in suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/816/2014, which judgement was delivered on November 24, 2014.

Eze contended that he emerged as the governorship candidate of the party based on the correct delegates list sanctioned by the same court, adding, however, that the defendants were bent on sending another person other than his name to INEC as their chosen governorship candidate for the said 2015 election. He further urged the court to, among other things, determine whether having regard to the provisions of the 1999 Constitution as amended, Sections 85 to 87 of the Electoral Act 2011 as amended, the electoral guidelines for primary elections 2014, the defendants could jettison, set aside, refuse to use or in any other manner ignore the result of the ward congresses held on November 1, 2014, where ad-hoc delegates from the 260 wards of Enugu State were elected in the conduct of the primary elections to elect the governorship candidate of the PDP for the general elections in 2015.

— Mar. 16, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT

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