Name variation insufficient to disqualify me, says Ibezim
The All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in the Imo North Senatorial by-election last December, Frank Ibezim, has faulted the Appeal Court’s validation of his disqualification by the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Ibezim was reacting to the appellate court’s unanimous decision affirming the judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja, which ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to remove his name from the list of candidates for the by-election.
He told The Guardian, yesterday, that name variation should not be enough reason to disqualify him; hence he would pursue the case to its logical conclusion, as he had briefed his lawyers to approach the Supreme Court.
The High Court judgment followed a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1229/2020, which was filed against Ibezim by Asomugha Elebeke.
The trial judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo, had in the judgment delivered on December 4, 2020, barely 24 hours to the by-election, disqualified Ibezim for allegedly making false statements/declarations in the affidavit and documents he tendered to both the APC and INEC.
The court held that evidence before it showed that Ibezim presented falsified and uncertified photocopies of his West African School Certificate (WASC).
Specifically, Justice Ekwo discovered that the WASC submitted by Ibezim bore two different names: Ibezim Chukwuma Frank and Ibezim Francis Chukwuma.
The court, therefore, held that Ibezim was “not qualified/eligible for nomination to contest the Imo North Senatorial by-election, having made false declarations in the affidavit and certificates he submitted to INEC for the purpose of contesting the by-election, and the irreconcilable conflicts in his names.”
It barred INEC from accepting him as the candidate of the APC for the senatorial by-election. However, Ibezim stated that the court was wrong on many grounds and relying on weak evidence of mere name variation to disqualify him.
He argued that in disqualifying him based on allegation of certificate forgery, the petitioner neither invited Uboma Secondary School, Ikperejere, Etiti in Imo State, nor the West African Examination Council (WAEC) as witnesses in the suit to deny or confirm the veracity of the certificate he presented.
On the issue of variously using Frank and Francis, Ibezim said his photograph would have been enough proof that the results were his and that his opponent could not contest that without relying on technicality.
The embattled APC candidate said the court was too lenient on his opponents and relied on him to prove his innocence, instead of expecting them to prove their allegations against him, as is standard in matters of this nature.
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