The national elections scheduled for tomorrow, Saturday, February 23, 2019, seems dicey for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in Okigwe South federal constituency, Hon. Chike Okafor, following an Abuja high court recent ruling, restraining the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), from further recognizing, accepting or listing the name of the party’s candidate in the 2019 ballot paper for Okigwe South House of Representatives election on the ground that, the party did not conduct any primary election for the office.
The court ruling was sequel to an originating summons instituted by an APC aspirant in the October 2018 primary election, one Mrs Uzoma Chioma Mary Ann, as claimant against the All Progressives Congress candidate, and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), as 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents respectively.
The Claimant/Applicant, Mrs Uzoma had approached the court to determine whether the process of the political party’s selecting and presenting a candidate for the election without conducting primary election, was in conformity with relevant portions of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and a section of the constitution of the party.
Based on the three points of claims by the Applicant, she sought for some declarations and reliefs from the high court which at the end of the court hearing on February 12, 2019, were granted.
One of the six declarations or relief, she sought was (1) a declaration that having regards to the provisions of section 14 (4) and section 224 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigerian, 1999 as amended, read alongside article 20 (v) of the constitution of the All Progressives Congress, as amended and the Electoral guidelines for nomination of candidates for the 2019 general elections, indirect primaries, the party has not complied with the expression and mandatory provision of Federal characters gender balance, geopolitical spread and totalize of offices provided for in it’s own constitution.
And order mandating or compelling the party to submit the Plaintiffs name to Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as it’s validly nominated gender based and cleared consensus candidate for Okigwe South federal constituency and further order compelling INEC to accept enlist and process the Plaintiffs name as the duly nominated, cleared consensus candidate of the party or alternatively, conduct a fresh primary elections.
In his final ruling after reviewing the number of issues canvassed and particularly sought, the court ruled that the party has not complied with the guidelines and the constitution for the nomination of a candidate for Okigwe South federal constituency of Imo state.
The court ruled as follows, “it is therefore my declaration that the final report of electoral appeal panel which recommended the nomination and submission of the second defendants as the House of Representatives candidate of APC for Okigwe South federal constituency, for Imo state is inappropriate unlawful, null and void for failure to comply with the 1st defendant’s guideline for nomination of candidate.