Legal Nigeria

Anambra guber: Soludo suffers setback as court reaffirms Umeoji’s APGA candidacy

By Collins Osuji

An Owerri High Court has struck out a suit filed by the embattled former National Chairman of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) Victor Oye, seeking to remove Chukwuma Umeoji as the party’s candidate for the Anambra governorship election.

The court also dismissed Oye’s plea to mandate the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to delist Umeoji’s name from its published document and replace him with that of Charles Soludo.

Delivering the judgment, the presiding Judge, Justice Victoria C. Isiguzo equally insisted that its earlier judgment which declared Jude Okeke as APGA National Chairman remains valid.

Isiguzo also ruled that INEC should continue to accept, recognize and include Umeoji’s name in all electoral processes for the Anambra guber election unless otherwise ruled by an Appeal Court.

The judge, however, granted the Oye the leave to appeal against the judgment but refused his prayer for stay of execution of the judgment.

“That leave is hereby granted to the Applicant to Appeal as an interested party against the judgment/Orders of this Honourable Court (Coram, B.C. Iheka, J.) delivered on the 28th July 2021 in Suit No HOW/543/2021; Chike Dike V. INEC & 2 ors to the Court of Appeal.

“Prayer 2 for stay of execution of the judgment delivered on the 28th July 2021 is hereby refused. The Judgment of this court in suit No HOW/543/2021 is still subsisting and binding,” part of the ruling reads.

“The Judgment being a final judgment remains valid, subsisting, until set aside by an appellate court.”

Speaking to newsmen shortly after the ruling, one of the leading counsels to Okeke, Asika Ilobi said, “this ruling was sequel to an application for stay of execution and leave to appeal filed by Chief Victor Oye wherein the court granted him leave to appeal but refused to grant the order for stay of execution but rather went ahead to reaffirm its earlier judgment.

“The Court expressly stated that INEC cannot evade its duty to comply with the Orders of the Court declaring Umeoji candidate and therefore has a legal obligation to continue to carry out, obey and comply with the extant, valid and subsisting Judgment of this Court delivered on 28th July 2021 which declared Umeoji candidate and ordered INEC to continue to recognize him and Jude Okeke pending the determination of the appeal filed by Victor Oye at Appeal Court Owerri.”

“So by today’s ruling, INEC is directly restrained from attempting to remove the name of Hon. Chukwuma Umeoji as candidate of APGA from its list as being rumoured that it was under pressure to so do.”

On his part, the Imo APGA State Chairman, John Iwuala, who spoke for Oye, expressed optimism of getting a favourable ruling at the Appeal Court.