The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Monday, set aside the candidacy of Andy Uba as flagbearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the recent governorship election held in Anambra State.
Inyang Ekwo, the judge, while delivering judgment on Monday, held that Mr Uba was never a candidate in the poll having emerged from an illegally conducted primary election by the APC.
Mr Ekwo held that the plaintiff, George Moghalu, succeeded in proving that the APC did not conduct a valid primary election which Mr Uba claimed to have won as the party’s flag bearer in the November 6, 2021 election.
The court ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to delete Mr Uba’s name from its record as a candidate in the election.
It also ordered the APC to refund to the plaintiff N22.5 million he paid for expression of interest and nomination forms since the party failed to conduct a valid primary.
The November 6 election was won by the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Charles Soludo, who is a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
He is due for inauguration in March 2022.
Mr Uba had emerged as the APC’s candidate at a primary election held on June 26, 2021.
Mr Moghalu, an aspirant in the APC primary election, challenged the process and the outcome of the primary election.
In the suit, marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/648/2021, Mr Moghalu contended that the APC did not comply with the relevant provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 and the APC’s regulations and guidelines in the conduct of its governorship primary in Anambra State.
Mr Moghalu urged the court to determine whether a political party that fails to comply with the provisions of the Electoral Act (2010), the party’s constitution and its guideline, can validly field a candidate for the election.
The plaintiff’s lawyer, Chris Uche, who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), informed the court that his client’s grouse was that the “so-called primary election”, which produced Mr Uba as APC’s candidate for the Anambra governorship poll, breached the Electoral Act and the APC guidelines for the conduct of the exercise.
In his arguments, Mr Uche referenced a report by officials of the INEC which allegedly declared that the primary election did not take place up till 5.30 p.m. when its officials left the primary election venue.
This report, according to the plaintiff’s lawyer, corroborates his client’s claim that the APC did not hold a valid primary in Anambra State.
He prayed the court to declare that, by virtue of the APC’s alleged non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 and the party’s regulations and guidelines in the conduct of its primary in Anambra State, Uba “is not a candidate at the said 6th November 2021 gubernatorial election or at any subsequent postponement.”
The plaintiff equally asked the court to declare that the APC was bound to comply with all the relevant legal provisions in the conduct of its primary election after having demanded and received N22.5 million from him and other 13 aspirants.
He also asked the court to, among others, declare that having allegedly failed to comply with the relevant applicable laws, the APC had no candidate for the governorship election.
He, therefore, urged the court to order the party to refund the N22.5 million he paid for the expression of interest and nomination forms.
Furthermore, he asked the court to grant a perpetual injunction to restrain Mr Uba from parading himself as the candidate of the APC in the (then) forthcoming election.
“An order of mandatory injunction compelling INEC to delist the APC and Uba from the list of political parties and candidates for the election,” Mr Moghalu added.
He urged the court to grant his client’s prayers, including nullifying the primary election and ordering a fresh one or making any order the court considered to be necessary.
Mr Uba’s defence team led by another Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mahmud Magaji, argued that the plaintiff failed to establish that a valid primary was not held.
They also contended that the plaintiff lacked the right to institute the suit to challenge a primary he did not participate in.
They urged the court to decline jurisdiction and dismiss the suit.
Similarly, the APC, through its lawyer, Vincent Otaokpokpo, urged the court to dismiss the case or convert the suit to one that would require parties to lead oral evidence by calling witnesses.