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Candidates Whose Tickets Hang In The Balance

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writes on candidates in this round of elections whose tickets were stalled by the judiciary based on intra-party primary squabbles.

The 2019 general election has thrown up it’s share of manoverings and surprises. Besides the hate speeches, fake news and acts of violence, this election season has also seen candidates, who believed they would emerge victorious at the polls.

The use of the direct and indirect primaries by ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) contributed largely to the upheavals that led to the judiciary reversing the candidature of most candidates. While some of the cases have been sealed by the Supreme Court, others have been handled by lower courts. As such, some of the candidates still have life lines considering that they can still approach higher courts to regain their tickets. Rivers APC The most pronounced case is that of Rivers State.

The Supreme Court upheld the order of a Federal High Court sitting in Port-Harcourt which last year barred the APC from conducting any primary election pending the determination of a suit brought before it by a team of 22 aggrieved members of the party.

The legal firework was the outcome of an intense battle for supremacy between former governor and minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, and the serving Senator Magnus Abe. Amaechi’s camp believes Abe, a hitherto staunch ally, is being sponsored by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, to weaken the APC, a claim Abe has repeatedly denied. With the decision of the Apex Court, the hope of APC in fielding candidates for the forthcoming election is slim, a situation that has sparked lots of tough talk and protests by the Amaechi camp.

The Apex Court, in a judgment set aside the ruling of the Court of Appeal in Port-Harcourt which in October last year upturned the interlocutory order of the High Court in the political case.

In a unanimous verdict by a five-man panel of Justices, the Supreme Court refused to tamper with the High Court judgment that ab-initio barred the APC from conducting its Ward, Local Government and State congresses in Rivers State, pending the determination of a suit that was filed by 22 aggrieved chieftains of the party.

The plaintiffs led by Ibrahim Umar, had on May 11, 2018, secured an interim injunction from a High Court in Port Harcourt, which restrained the APC from going ahead with the indirect primaries that held on May 19, 20 and 21 respectively which produced Tonye Cole as governorship candidate and other candidates to represent the party in the 2019 general elections.

The APC had through its lawyer, Prince Lateef Fagbemi SAN, begged the Supreme Court to clear legal impediments against the faction loyal to the minister of transportation Mr. Rotimi Amaechi and allow its list of candidates that contained Tonye Cole’s name.

But the request was rejected by the panel of the apex court led by Justice Mohammad Dattijo, which rather re-affirmed its previous ruling that validated the high court verdict, the order that barred APC from conducting its Rivers primaries.

The Supreme Court invoked section 22 of its Act which allows it to take over a matter and give final judgment to decide on the appeal. Zamfara The next most contentious state is Zamfara, where the scenario has been that of threats and lots of intrigues.

The two factions in the state led by the governor, Abdulaziz Yari and Senator Marafa respectively, had snowballed into the conduct of parallel primaries and consequently, legal tussle which led to two federal high courts giving conflicting judgements.

INEC had declined to accept APC candidates in Zamfara State because, according to the commission, the party failed to meet the deadline for holding primaries.

However, the Court of Appeal in Sokoto order on the matter had generated some confusion in the political field.

While some reports emerged that it ordered the INEC to accept candidates from the APC in the state, the three-member panel of the court rather gave an order dismissing a suit filed by a member of the House of Representatives, Aminu Jaji. The suit was challenging the ruling of a high court of Zamfara State which ordered INEC to accept candidates from the APC.

Mr Jaji, one of the governorship aspirants of the APC, approached the court of appeal to inform it of his decision to withdraw the suit. Following his request, the court dismissed the suit based on its rules and the request of the plaintiff.

Mr Jaji asked the Sokoto Division of the Court of Appeal to nullify the judgement by the Zamfara State High Court which had directed the INEC to accept candidates from the APC. Ibrahim Dosara, a spokesperson for Abdulaziz Yari, governor of Zamfara State, had sent out a message claiming that by Wednesday’s dismissal, the judgement by the Zamfara State High Court stands. He also claimed that the appeal court’s decision means the court gave INEC the order to include Zamfara State APC candidates in the forthcoming election. Contrary to Mr Dosara’s claim, however, the appeal court only dismissed the suit but gave no ruling. This means both the earlier Zamfara high court ruling and the contrary Abuja court ruling still exists with INEC choosing to obey the latter. Ayogun Eze On February 5, the Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja and presided over by Justice Inyang Ekwo annulled the APC primary in Enugu State that produced Sen. Ayogu Eze, as gubernatorial candidate.

The court which held that Eze was not the legitimate candidate that emerged from the party’s October 4 direct primary, declared Chief George Ogara, who filed the suit, as the rightful candidate that won the primary.

The judge asked the party leadership to forward Ogara’s name to replace that of Eze at INEC and further barred INEC from accepting any other name as APC governorship candidate in the March 2 election in the state. The court held: “Plaintiff’s name is entitled to be forwarded by the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th defendants to the 5th defendant as the candidate of the 2nd and 4th defendant in the 2019 Enugu State governorship election.

“That the direct primary election for governorship aspirants conducted on 4/10/2018, wherein the plaintiff emerged as the winner on 4/10/2018, having scored the highest number of votes cast in the said direct primary election for Enugu State governorship aspirants is consistent with and in compliance with the provisions of Section 87 (3) of the Electoral Act. 2010 (as amended) and Article 20 (iii) of the A11 Progressives Congress Constitution, 2014 (as amended).”

Justice Ekwo then held that the party’s National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, Prof Michael Momoh and the APC, 2nd to 4th defendants’ refusal, neglect and/or failure to forward the name of the plaintiff to the 5th defendant as the candidate of the 4th defendant and INEC’s refusal to publish the name of the plaintiff as APC candidate for the governorship election is contrary to the provisions of Section 87 (3) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and Article 20 of APC Constitution.

The tussle is rooted in the battle for leadership of the party which pitched Deacon Okey Ogbodo against Dr. Ben Nwoye on the contest for the chairmanship position.

Ogara has since asked his supporters to remain resolute, adding that he will reinvigorate his campaign programmes that were truncated by the wrongful recognition of Eze as the candidate of the party.

He insisted that he won the direct primary by securing 57,675 votes against Eze’s 7,690 votes. Eze, while reacting to the judgement said it was the machination of other political parties to ensure he did not participate in the election.

Addressing a crowd of supporters at his campaign office along Ogui Road, who gathered for the inauguration of the campaign council, that efforts were made to ensure that he did not win the party’s ticket, adding that the battle shifted to the courts the moment he won the governorship primary.

“But that is part of the challenges I will have to overcome on my way to victory,” he said. “That is why we must remove the inept state government. They know that we have what it takes to win the election and have not rested since we got the victory at the polls.”

The embattled governorship candidate maintained that it was an ambitious attempt to ensure that he did not proceed with his governorship ambition. He said:

“They have been battling us from the time of conception, the time of birth, the time of crawling, the time of walking and the time of running.”

The PDP gloated over the situation. A statement from the director of Communications, PDP campaign organisation in Enugu State, Nana Ogbodo said: “the court judgment only goes to underscore the palpable confusion in the party in the state and has affected every aspect of their existence, including campaigning.”

David Umaru Just when Senator David Umaru thought his return ticket to the Senate was sealed, the Federal High Court in Abuja declared Alhaji Mohammed Musa as the APC candidate for the Niger East Senatorial district for the forthcoming election.

Justice Folashade Ogunbanjo in her judgement recognised Musa as the rightful winner of the APC primary election conducted in the senatorial district on October 2 , 2018. As a result, the court granted an order setting aside the nomination and / or submission of the name of Senator Umaru by the APC to the INEC as the candidate to represent the party for the senatorial district at the general elections.

Speaking after his victory , Musa who described the judgement as victory for democracy called on his political rival , Senator David Umaru to join hands with him to move the state forward. “ It is victory for the party (APC) , victory for democracy and the good people of Niger State .

I call on my supporters and party members and my brother, Senator David Umaru to join me in unity so that we can move the party and the people of the state forward ,” Musa said. Shortly after the judgement was delivered, the senator vowed to appeal the decision of the court. In a press conference on the matter, Senator Umaru said the judgment is not only erroneous but against the weight of evidence before the judge.

The Senator has since appealed the judgment of the Federal High Court , declaring Mohammed Sani Musa as the candidate of the APC for the February 16 election.

John Enoh Despite the fact that he was handed the party flag by President Muhammadu Buhari at the APC presidential rally in Calabar, a Federal High Court sitting in Cross River State sacked Senator John Owan-Enoh as the APC governorship candidate as well as other candidates of the party hitherto recognised by INEC.

Hon Justice Simon Amobeda in a two- hour judgment ordered that “ INEC should only receive and accept the names and candidates for the 2019 elections that emerged from the lawful executive led by Godwin Etim John .

” The Court said Enoh’s name should be substituted with that of the Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, Usani Usani. Enoh, a serving senator from the state, has been engaged in a protracted battle with Mr Usani over the control of the APC in the state.

But by the turn of the election season, the battle between the two over who will fly the party’s flag in the March 2 governorship election metamorphosed into parallel primaries.

TheRiver State should forthwith cease and that the lawful executive of APC in Cross River State court also sacked the leadership of the party led by Mr . John Ochalla. Justice Amodeba also ordered that persons parading themselves as the executive members of the APC in Cross is the one led by Godwin Etim John. Speaking with newsmen shortly after the judgement , counsel to the claimants , Ayei Okpa said , “

The judgment clearly is in support of the rule of law, as it also supports the yearning of the common man.

“INEC is to use and publish only the names that emerged from the lawful executive and not any other name that emerged from any other executive in Cross River State APC.” Reacting, the spokesman of Senator John Owna-Enoh Campaign Organisation, Mr Dan Amor, described the ruling as an unnecessary distraction in view of the fact that there was an appeal suit on the matter of who becomes an authentic candidate of the party.

Uduaghan Oilije the immediate-past governor of Delta State and All Progressives Congress (APC) 2019 Delta South senatorial candidate, Dr Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan, has debunked online reports that an Abuja High Court has nullified his candidature and ordered the APC to conduct fresh primaries for Delta South Senatorial District. The purported court order, the report had said, followed a suit filed by AV Terry Omatsola Okorodudu (Rtd) challenging the candidature of the former governor.

But Uduaghan, in a statement by his Media Assistant, Monoyo Edon, denied the report stressing that he was never aware of the case nor joined in the alleged suit.

The statement further clarified that the court had at no time ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to remove his name from the list of candidates in the 2019 senatorial election which held on Saturday.

Against speculation making the rounds in some quarters, the head Strategy and Communications, APC Delta State chapter, Nick Ovuakporie, said the Federal High Court sitting in Asaba did not sack the Prophet Jones Erue led executive of the party in the State.

Ladi Adebutu The Supreme Court struck out an appeal filed by the national secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against the Senator Buruji Kashamu backed leadership of the party in Ogun State. As such, Kashamu retained the recognition as the candidate of the party ahead of the governorship elections.

The party has been locked in an intensely winding legal tussle in the state between two camps laying claim to the leadership of the party.

Kashamu and Hon Ladi Adebutu have been laying clwaim to the governorship ticket of PDP in Ogun State.

While the leadership of the party is behind Adebutu whom Uche Secondus, national chairman of the party, handed the governorship flag, a faction of the opposition party unveiled Kashamu as its candidate.

Kashamu had relied on a ruling of the federal high court in Abeokuta which ordered the INEC to accept the list of candidates submitted to it by the faction of Kashamu. But Adebutu asked the court of appeal to set aside the ruling of the lower court.

However, a judgment read by Justice Mohammed Musa Dattijo of the Supreme Court, said the appeal had become statute barred, lifeless and worthless having been overtaken by the 4th Alteration to the 1999 Constitution.

The party in the appeal had challenged the judgment of Justice Buba Ibrahim of the Federal High Court, Abuja, and upheld by the Court of Appeal which conferred recognition on the Dayo Adebayo led executive committee of the party in Ogun State as the authentic leadership. The Adebayo-led faction is loyal to Kashamu.

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