Anambra poll: Soludo challenges exclusion in court, PDP insists on Ozigbo

The All Progressives Grand Alliance and the Peoples Democratic Party have rejected the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission to drop their preferred candidates for the Anambra State Governorship election slated for November 6, 2021. INEC had displayed the name and particulars of a member of the House of Representatives, Chukwuma Umeoji, as the APGA candidate, while also dropping the name of Valentine Ozigbo, who won the PDP primary, from the list of candidates.

The commission, however, named Andy Uba, who won the controversial primary of the All progressives Congress, as the candidate of the party. The decision of the election management body was contained in a statement signed by its National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, on Friday. He said the decision was arrived at after the commission’s meeting in Abuja, on Thursday.

Okoye explained that INEC took the decisions in obedience to court orders served on the commission in relation to the primaries of the affected political parties.

Two APGA factions conducted parallel governorship primary elections, producing separate candidates.

While the Victor Oye-led faction conducted the primary which produced a former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof Charles Soludo, the Jude Okeke-led faction conducted the primary where Umeoji emerged as the candidate. In the case of the PDP, a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja on Thursday ordered INEC not to publish the name of any candidate pending the determination of a pending suit challenging the primary.

Delivering his ruling on an ex parte application filed by one of the PDP aspirants, Justice Yusuf Halilu directed INEC to maintain the status quo by not publishing any name as the party’s candidate in deference to ongoing proceedings. “Order that all parties to this suit be put on notice, and I also further order that status quo shall be maintained by INEC by not publishing the name of any candidate as the governorship candidate of Peoples Democratic Party pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice,” the enrolled order of the court read in part.

Ozibo and Ugochukwu Uba had emerged as the PDP’s governorship candidates from parallel primaries.

Both are laying claim to the party’s ticket. According to INEC’s list, 18 political parties and candidates will participate in the November poll. Okoye further explained that the personal particulars of the candidates would be published on the commission’s notice board in Awka, Anambra State.

Speaking earlier, the factional APGA National Chairman, Oye, said information available to him indicated that “one Jude Okeke and his co-travellers went to infiltrate INEC to publish an aspirant that did not make it through to the primary of APGA and announce him as the governorship candidate of APGA.” Oye described the recognition of Umeoji as the APGA candidate as “a big embarrassment to Nigeria’s political system, and an embarrassment to Nigeria as a nation and its leaders.”

The party chairman said APGA, under his leadership, started the process for the governorship primary by publishing its timetable which was closely followed through to the primary that was held on June 23, 2021, in Awka, an exercise he said was duly monitored by INEC.

He said, “The result was turned in by the monitoring committee of INEC. As of July 23, it was only APGA under my leadership that conducted its primary. We were the first to conduct our primary among the three biggest political parties in Nigeria. And our primary was aired live by national televisions and witnessed by the whole world.

After the primary, INEC sent a letter to me to come forward to collect the code for uploading the particulars of our candidate and his deputy. On July 2, in accordance with the Electoral Act and the timetable of INEC, we uploaded the particulars of our governorship candidate, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, and his deputy, Dr Onyekachi Ibezim.

“Immediately we concluded that, INEC duly acknowledged it. We also submitted the hardcopy at the INEC office and it was duly acknowledged.”

Oye made reference to another judgement of a Federal High Court in Awka directing INEC to maintain status quo and receive the particulars submitted to it by the APGA leadership and publish the same.

Also reacting to the development, Soludo urged his supporters to remain calm, insisting that no matter what happens, his name would be on the ballot. Soludo said there was no way Umeoji and his running mate, Obiageli Orogbu, would stand as the representatives of APGA in the election.

The ex-CBN governor said this in an interview in Awka on Friday.

He said, “I will be on the list (of the candidates for the election). I will be the candidate of APGA in the election. There is nothing to worry about. The point is that somebody (Umeoji) was screened and disqualified by the party. He then travelled to Jigawa State to start a court process, created his own NEC, NWC and also formed his own party. Do you expect that to stand? No, it will not stand. I shall be the candidate of the party because I was duly nominated and elected.”

Soludo said the process to vacate the court order obtained by Umeoji had started.

Meanwhile, the ex-CBN governor has described the news making the rounds that he was summoned to answer criminal charges by a court in Abuja as fake. This was contained in a statement signed by his media aide, Joe Anatune, in Akwa on Friday.

Also, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, when contacted, said, “For us in the PDP, we have a candidate for the Anambra State governorship election in the person of Valentine Ozibo.”

“We had a very transparent party primary witnessed by INEC officials and he emerged as the candidate,” he said.

Copyright PUNCH.


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