By Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal on Wednesday sacked the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, George Ogara, in the March 9 governorship election in Enugu state.
The appellate court in a Judgment delivered also affirmed the earlier nomination of Ayogu Eze as the lawful candidate of the APC in the governorship.
The appellate court in a unanimous judgment delivered by justice Abdul Aboki, set aside the judgment of Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, who had earlier ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to replace him with Ogara as the APC governorship candidate in Enugu state.
The appellate court in setting aside the decison of the lower court held that the suit originally was filed out of time and as such ought not to have been entertained in the first instance.
According to the 3 man panel of justices the suit having been caught by the 4th Alteration to the 1999 constitution is rendered incompetent in the eyes of the law.
Section 285 (9) of the 1999 constitution as amended stipulates that an aggrieved party seeking legal redress in a preelection matter must institute legal action not beyond 14 days of the cause of action.
But in the instant case, the court observed that the case was however filed 32 clear days after the primaries which took place on the 4th of October, thereby rendering the suit to a mere academic exercise.
Justice Aboki said that the failure of Ogara to file his suit within the 14 days provided by the law has offended section 285 (9) of the 1999 constitution as amended, removed jurisdiction from the Federal High Court and made the case to be statute barred.
According to the judgment, “whatever right the respondent may have in his suit has been extinguished by law” and therefore has no right to benefit any longer from the case.
The Court of Appeal therefore set aside the judgment of the federal High Court which ordered INEC to remove and expunge Senator Ayogu Eze’s name from INEC list of candidates for the governorship election in Enugu state.