By Leo Sobechi and Osiberoha Osibe
The Court of Appeal, Kano Division, has dismissed the judgment of Jigawa High Court, which declared Chukwuma Umeoji and Jude Okeke as candidate and national chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) for the November 6 governorship poll in Anambra State.
In a unanimous judgment, yesterday, the three-man panel of justices declared that Justice Ubale Umar of Jigawa High Court lacked the territorial or substantive jurisdiction to pronounce on the dispute arising from the Anambra APGA governorship primary.
The Guardian could not ascertain from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), at press time, whether the full weight of the appellate court ruling is enough to remove all other hurdles against the listing of Prof. Chukwuma Soludo as the party’s candidate.
Reacting to the ruling, the APGA National Chairman, Victor Oye, through the National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Tex Okechukwu, described the appellate court’s ruling as a watershed in the country’s polity.
Oye pleaded with INEC to do the needful without further delay by enlisting Soludo as the party’s duly nominated candidate for the November 6 election, even as he congratulated APGA faithful all over the country for their resoluteness and support.
BUT the parallel National Chairman/factional governorship candidate of APGA, Umeoji, rejected the judgment, which recognised Oye as the national chairman.
The special panel of the court led by Justice Haruna Tsammani held that Justice Ubale was biased in the manner the case was handled, having contravened Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, for not granting Oye fair hearing before a court or tribunal and lacking jurisdiction to adjudicate the matter.
The two other judges are Maiwada Abdullahi and Usman Musale. In the unanimous judgment, they declared Okeke and his group as “meddlesome interlopers” and ordered INEC not to recognise Okeke’s purported faction for being a product of rascality of politicians.
However, the former National Chairman of APGA, Senator Victor Umeh, described the judgment as landmark, revealing that the attempt to stop Oye was targeted at Soludo.