Members of APC in Abia State are currently engrossed in tension as the Federal High Court sitting in Umuahia, has reserved judgement for Friday, October 7 on the suit seeking the nullification of the party’s governorship primaries.
Two chieftains of the party, High Chief Ikechi Emenike and former minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Uche Ogah are laying claims to the party’s governorship candidate in the state.
While High Chief Emenike emerged through an indirect primary election, Ogah who was the governorship candidate of the party in 2019 was elected in a direct primary.
Although Emenike’s name was shortlisted in the final list published Tuesday by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the authentic flag bearer will on Friday be decided by the High Court.
ABN TV reports that while the national leadership of APC has recognised Chief Emenike as its authentic flag bearer but Ogah and Eke are kicking against the action.
Eke had approached the court to seek nullification of the primaries which he said did not comply with the party directives, INEC guidelines, and the new Electoral Act.
His lawyer, Obinna Nkume who dismissed “the purported primaries as a charade and a sham”, urged the court to annul both primaries.
”My client is saying that the APC governorship primaries in Abia were not conducted in line with the party guidelines, so everything they did was invalid.”
He argued that both “Emenike who claimed he emerged through indirect primaries and Ogah claiming to have been produced via directed primary, “cannot sustain their claims”.
The plaintiff’s lawyer argued that whereas the APC had directed for direct primary for Abia, Chief Emenike “purportedly emerged through indirect primary in clear violation of the directive; while Ogah’s purported primary was not supervised by the party’s electoral committee”.
”The Electoral Act is clear: if you opt for direct primary, you do direct primary. The party opted for a direct primary for Abia but the committee did indirect primary where Emenike claims to have emerged.
“For Ogah, the position of the Electoral Act is that if the party’s electoral committee does not participate in your primary even if INEC supervises it, such a primary is a sham.”
But counsel to APC urged the court to dismiss the suit arguing that the plaintiff is not a registered member of the party in his Igbere Ward.
He further argued that the plaintiff had by his own written evidence, admitted that he did not participate in the primaries, hence, he had no locus to challenge the outcome of the exercise.
Chief Emenike’s lawyer, H. O Afolabi, SAN, allied himself with the submissions and arguments canvassed by APC’s lawyer, adding that the plaintiff must first prove that he participated in the primaries before challenging the outcome.
Ogah who sought to be joined in the suit through his Counsel, Oliver Amuzie, urged the court to void only the result of the indirect primary that “purportedly produced the 2nd defendant (Emenike), arguing that it was in clear violation of the party directives.
Ogah’s lawyer further urged the court to disregard the argument that the plaintiff had no locus in the matter on the basis of non-participation whereas his name was on the result sheet.
Ogah’s lawyer, however, said his client’s candidacy should be affirmed haven emerged from direct mode of primary as directed by the party leadership and supervised by INEC.
Meanwhile, INEC counsel, D. I Amadi, said that the commission was not an interested party in the matter, but urged that the suit be dismissed in its entirety.
After listening to the arguments of all the parties, the presiding Judge, Justice Evelyn Anyadike, reserved judgement for Friday, October 7.
Latter in an interview, Chief Eke who was present at the court expressed satisfaction with the proceedings so far.
He also expressed optimism that he would get justice, vowing to fight illegality and impunity in the party.
Eke said he was in the court to challenge injustice, arguing that parties should not be allowed to collect money from aspirants through sale of forms, and fail to conduct fair primaries for them.
Chief Eke said that APC stood the risk of not fielding any candidate in the governorship poll because of impunity.