Sylvester Idowu in Warri
Less than two weeks after a Federal High Court in Asaba, Delta State, sacked the All Progressives Congress (APC) faction that produced Senator Ovie Omo-Agege for the just-concluded general election in Delta State, the same court sitting in Warri has upheld the candidacy of the senator and other APC candidates that emerged through the primaries supervised by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the state.
The presiding judge, Justice Emeka Ewite, in his judgment delivered yesterday, struck out the suit filed by the applicant, Mr. O’tega Emerhor, challenging the validity of the primary that brought Omo-Agege.
Ewite struck out the suit on the ground of incompetence and lacking in merit.
He noted that Omo-Agege and Rev. Francis Waive, the winner of the Ughelli/ Udu Federal Constituency were necessary parties that ought to have been joined in the suit.
The judge further observed that Emerhor failed to deny the counter-affidavit filed by INEC, that it did not monitor the primary for which he purportedly emerged.
“Failure to deny the counter-affidavit is an admission which required no further proof that INEC only monitored the primaries in which Omo-Agege emerged.
“INEC is to supervise or monitor primary elections and not to conduct,” he said.
Addressing journalists shortly after the judgment, counsel to the APC, Mr. Lucky Ajokperiniovo, described the court verdict as a `landmark’ for the party and all the candidates that emerged legitimately through the primaries.
“It is a landmark judgment; the court has again reaffirmed the position of the Supreme Court to say that persons who are not joined as parties to a suit are not bind by the judgment given by that court.
“The court struck out the suit filed by Emerhor for incompetence and lack of merit.
“The court said Omo-Agege’s primary elections remain the valid and legitimate primary election conducted by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the APC.
“The consent judgment is a judgment of court that is valid and binding on all persons until it is set aside.
“This judgment has given the party huge relief in determining who the senatorial candidate in the 2019 general election in Delta Central,” he said.
Also, counsel representing INEC, Mr. Robert Emukpoeruo said that the national electoral umpire was neutral and impartial.
“It is the statutory duty of INEC to monitor primary elections and report those who won and their scores.
“The report by INEC shows that Omo-Agege won the primaries conducted by the NWC,” he said.
Counsel to Emerhor, Mr G. C Igbokwe in his remark said, “We are happy with the judgment”.