INEC lists Soludo despite court’s affirmation of Umeoji’s APGA faction
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), yesterday, listed Chukwuma Soludo as All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) candidate for the November 6 Anambra governorship ballot.
This was despite the ruling of an Owerri High Court, same day, striking out a suit filed by the embattled former National Chairman of APGA, Victor Oye, seeking to remove Chukwuma Umeoji as the party’s candidate for the election.
The Owerri court had also dismissed Oye’s plea to mandate INEC to delist Umeoji’s name from its published document and replace him with that of Soludo.
Delivering the judgment, yesterday, Justice Victoria Isiguzo equally insisted that the court’s earlier judgment that declared Jude Okeke as National Chairman of APGA remains valid.
Isiguzo also ruled that INEC should continue to accept, recognise and include Umeoji’s name in all electoral processes for the Anambra guber election, unless otherwise ruled by an Appeal Court.
The judge, however, granted Oye leave to appeal against the judgment, but refused his prayer for stay of execution of the judgment.
Meanwhile, the National Working Committee (NWC) of APGA has commended INEC for publishing the names of Soludo and Dr. Onyekachikwu Ibezim as the party’s governorship and deputy governorship candidates respectively, for the election.
In a statement issued in Abuja by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Tex Okechukwu, APGA expressed joy that after several weeks of suspense and confusion, INEC had brought about the much-needed respite by obeying the Kano Court of Appeal judgment.
However, the party regretted that INEC almost destroyed the nation’s democracy by publishing the name of someone, whom it said, had no business being there in the first place.
After the ruling, Okeke’s lead counsel, Asika Ilobi, told newsmen: “This ruling was sequel to an application for stay of execution and leave to appeal filed by Chief Victor Oye wherein the court granted him leave to appeal but refused to grant the order for stay of execution and rather went ahead to reaffirm its earlier judgment.
“The court expressly stated that INEC cannot evade its duty to comply with the orders of the court declaring Umeoji candidate and, therefore, has a legal obligation to continue to carry out, obey and comply with the extant, valid and subsisting judgment of this court delivered on July 28, 2021, which declared Umeoji candidate and ordered INEC to continue to recognise him and Okeke pending the determination of the appeal filed by Victor Oye at Appeal Court Owerri.”
According to him, by the ruling, INEC is restrained from attempting to remove the name of Chukwuma Umeoji as candidate of APGA from its list, as being rumoured that it was under pressure to so do.
Speaking on behalf of Oye, the APGA Chairman in Imo, John Iwuala, expressed optimism of getting favourable ruling when they approach the Court of Appeal.