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APC faction rejects Appeal Court’s ruling on Enugu ticket

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• Insists Ogara is party’s candidate, seeks Supreme Court’s ruling
•Anambra indigenes in Enugu accuse Ugwuanyi of breach of trust

The Deacon Okey Ogbodo faction of All Progressives Congress (APC) Enugu State has rejected yesterday’s ruling of the Court of Appeal, which upturned earlier Federal High Court judgment that recognised George Tagbo Ogara as the party’s gubernatorial candidate.

In a statement signed by the chairman, Deacon Okey Ogbodo, the APC faction described the appellate court ruling as a travesty and miscarriage of justice, stressing that there was no foundation on ground to hold that Senator Ayogu Eze is Enugu State gubernatorial candidate as noted by the court of first instance. The appeal court had ruled that the Federal High Court erred in law by declaring Ogara the authentic candidate of APC for the March 9, 2019 election.

But reacting the judgment, the APC faction loyal to Ogbodo insists that Ogara remains the party’s standard-bearer, stressing that it had directed its counsel to take the matter to the Supreme Court, where its pleadings would be upheld.The statement said: “Barrister George Tagbgo Ogara is the Enugu State gubernatorial candidate of APC, having come through a rigorous and clearly transparent process and elected by party faithful in a lawfully constituted primary election.

“We have always had absolute faith in the judiciary as the last hope of the common man, but the process that led up to this judgment leaves much to be desired. First, Ayogu Eze’s appeal was argued in the open court on Monday, March 5, 2019, after which the presiding judge announced to parties present that judgment would come “after the gubernatorial elections.”

The party chairman explained that as conventional with appellate courts, no specific date was given, saying that parties awaited new hearing (judgment) date after the election on March 9, 2019.He added, “Alas! Our gubernatorial candidate, Barrister George Ogara, informed me late last night to the effect that he had received a new hearing notice for today (yesterday) via a text message. Our lead counsel and his entire team had all dispersed, as it were, to their various places of practice upon Monday’s adjournment.

“So, we ask: An appellate court that had adjourned to sometime after next Saturday’s elections suddenly found the resources to deliver the judgment less than 48 hours after? What happened?“Adjourning a matter till after March 9, 2019 and delivering judgment less than 48 hours after amounts to stealing a match! What had changed so suddenly to warrant the emergency?”

Ogbodo also recalled the embarrassment, which the purported suspension of founding members of the party, Mr. Osita Okechukwu, by Adams Oshiomole, the national chairman, regretting that committed party men like Okechukwu, who he said used their personal resources to nurture APC in Enugu State when there was hardly any support from the centre, should be visited with unjust actions.

He declared, “As the authentic chairman of APC in the state, elected by congress and affirmed by courts of competent jurisdiction, there ought not to be disciplinary actions against a member of our chapter without our full knowledge and/or recommendation.“Okechukwu’s purported suspension obviously has nothing to do with events in our Enugu State chapter, and does not merit or have our support, implicit or otherwise. It would appear the national chairman has something against Enugu State and its people, otherwise, why seek to disable a very strong pillar of APC at this time?”

However, most groups have said they are comfortable with Ayogu Eze’s candidature as he alone is formidable enough to match the incumbent governor of the state, Chief Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, the candidate of Peoples Democratic Party.One of them is an Enugu-based group, Concerned Indigenes of Anambra State (CIAS). They said besides Senator Eze’s competence for the job, they would mobilise Anambrarians living in Enugu State to vote against the governor and PDP candidates in tomorrow’s gubernatorial and House of Assembly elections, for allegedly not keeping his promise to garner votes for Atiku/Obi ticket in the recent presidential and National Assembly polls.

In a statement by its interim chairman, Chief Nnamdi Maduka, CIAS accused the governor of reneging on all agreements they had with him to deliver 80 per cent of the registered voters in Enugu State to their son, Peter Obi, the PDP vice presidential candidate in the light of the fact that “the governor of Anambra State appeared hell bent on not supporting Atiku/Obi but APC’s President Buhari.”
   
It said it was “sad to hear the result of Enugu State even after we had it on good authority that the machinery of the election was under the control of the governor, which explains why the PDP cleared all the National Assembly seats even where they were very weak in the state.Claiming that they helped Ugwuanyi to win his first tenure so that he would support Peter Obi, the group added: “As I speak to you now, all our people in Enugu State are mobilizing our members and even other aggrieved Igbo people against what was clearly an un-gentlemanly act. We shall vote APC. That is for sure.”


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