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Abia 2023: Appeal Court Confirms Emenike As APC Candidate

THE Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, on Friday, affirmed Chief Ikechi Emenike as the authentic candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, for the 2023 governorship election in Abia state.

In a unanimous judgment delivered on three appeal cases before it, the appeal panel led by Hon Justice Peter Olabisi Ige held that the May 26, 2022 primary election through which Emenike emerged was valid.

The APC and Emenike had filed separate appeals challenging the verdict delivered by Justice Binta Nyako validating a purported direct primary election that former Minister of Solid Mineral, Dr. Uche Ogah, claimed he had won.

Another APC governorship aspirant, Dan Eke, also filed his own appeal challenging the judgment of the trial judge that recognised Ogah’s purported candidacy.

The APC had in processes it filed before the court, identified Emenike as its candidate for the election.

The Appellate Court in the judgments delivered one after the other on Appeal No. CA/ABJ/1258 High Chief Ikechi Emenike Vs Dr Sampson Uche Ogah  & 3 Ors; CA/ABJ/1257  APC Vs Dr Sampson Uche Ogah  & 3 Ors resolved the appeals in favour of the appellants.

It held that the appeal No. CA/ABJ/1297 filed by Dr Eke was  successful, thereby quashing Ogah’s claim to the Abia APC governorship ticket.

Justice Ige reprimanded Nyako for ignoring the issue of jurisdiction instead of resolving the issue given that it was fundamental in adjudication.

The panel also held that Ogah lacked the locus to challenge the outcome of the APC primary since he did not participate in the exercise but instead claimed that he took part in a separate primary which was not sanctioned by his party.

The judgment of the trial court was overturned by the appellate court as it upheld the earlier judgment of the Appeal Court in Owerri, which affirmed Emenike’s candidacy.

In her controversial verdict, Justice Nyako ignored not only the judgment of the Appellate Court in Owerri but also two other Appeal Court verdicts that were all resolved in favour of Emenike.

Specifically, Justice Ige and his learned colleagues held that they were bound by the judgment of Justice Pemu of the Court of Appeal Owerri, saying that Nyako’s judgment cannot displace the judgment of the Appeal Court, Owerri Division.

On the issue of Justice Nyako’s failure to invite address from counsel in the sole issue she had raised, the panel held that it was a breach of fair hearing and resolved it in Emenike’s favour.

The Appellate Court also held that the indirect primary conducted by APC in Abia was valid and frowned at the action of Nyako upholding the purported direct primary of Ogah thereby suggesting that same was ratified by certain state chapters.

In delivering the unanimous verdict, Justice Ige read out the names of the members of the panel sent by the National Secretariat of APC to conduct the governorship primary that produced Emenike, affirming that the exercise was valid.

He faulted the report of INEC which Ogah had used to back his claims, saying that a report by the electoral umpire “cannot validate an otherwise invalid primaries. You cannot place something on nothing and expect it to stand. The INEC report is inchoate and cannot validate the primaries relied on by Ogah.”

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