By Ononye VC
The Court of Appeal, Abuja on Wednesday agreed with the judgment of the Federal High Court which ruled that Andy Uba wasn’t a duly elected candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the November 6ty governorship election in Anambra State.
In a unanimous Judgement delivered by Justice Danlami Zenchi, the appellate court dismissed the appeals brought by Andy Uba and the APC against the judgment of the trial court for lack of merit.
Justice Zenchi held that the panel considered all the issues raised by the appellants in the two appeals and resolved all the issues against them. The court agreed with the submissions of the counsel to Moghalu, Chris Uche, dismissed the appeals, and affirmed the decision of Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court delivered on December 20, last year.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court, had in his judgment that was been challenged at the Court of Appeal, held that Uba was never a candidate in the poll having emerged from an illegally conducted primary election by the APC.
Ekwo held that the plaintiff, George Moghalu, succeeded in proving that the APC did not conduct a valid primary election which Mr Uba claimed to have won as the party’s flag bearer in the November 6, 2021 election. Consequently, he ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to delete Uba’s name from its record as a candidate in the election.
Justice Ekwo equally ordered the APC to refund to the plaintiff N22.5 million he paid for expression of interest and nomination forms since the party failed to conduct a valid primary. Andy Uba had emerged as the candidate as the APC’s candidate at the primary election held on June 26, 2021.
But in a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/648/2021, Moghalu, an aspirant in the APC primary election, challenged the process and the outcome of the primary election.
Moghalu contended that the APC did not comply with the relevant provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 and the APC’s regulations and guidelines in the conduct of its governorship primary in Anambra State.
Meanwhile, the November 6 election has since been won by the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), a former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Charles Soludo, who was inaugurated in March.
In the suit, Moghalu urged the court to determine whether a political party that fails to comply with the provisions of the Electoral Act (2010), the party’s constitution, and its guideline, can validly field a candidate for the election.
The plaintiff’s lawyer, Chris Uche, who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), informed the court that his client’s grouse was that the “so-called primary election”, which produced Mr Uba as APC’s candidate for the Anambra governorship poll, breached the Electoral Act and the APC guidelines for the conduct of the exercise.
In his arguments, Uche referenced a report by officials of the INEC which allegedly declared that the primary election did not take place up till 5.30 p.m. when its officials left the primary election venue.
This report, according to the plaintiff’s lawyer, corroborates his client’s claim that the APC did not hold a valid primary in Anambra State. He prayed the court to declare that, by virtue of the APC’s alleged non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 and the party’s regulations and guidelines in the conduct of its primary in Anambra State, Uba “is not a candidate at the said 6th November 2021 gubernatorial election or at any subsequent postponement”.
The plaintiff equally asked the court to declare that the APC was bound to comply with all the relevant legal provisions in the conduct of its primary election after having demanded and received N22.5 million from him and 13 other aspirants.
He also asked the court to, among others, declare that having allegedly failed to comply with the relevant applicable laws, the APC had no candidate for the governorship election. He, therefore, urged the court to order the party to refund the N22.5 million he paid for the expression of interest and nomination forms.
Furthermore, he asked the court to grant a perpetual injunction to restrain Mr Uba from parading himself as the candidate of the APC in the (then) forthcoming election.
“An order of mandatory injunction compelling INEC to delist the APC and Uba from the list of political parties and candidates for the election,” Moghalu added.