Imo North: Appeal Court Upholds Disqualification of APC’s Candidate

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Alex Enumah in Abuja

The Court of Appeal in Abuja yesterday upheld the disqualification of Chukwuma Francis Ibezim as candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the December 5, 2020 by-election for Imo North Senatorial District.

A three-man panel of justices of the court with Justice Abubakar Yahaya presiding in a unanimous judgment agreed with Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja that Ibezim submitted false information to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in aid of his qualification for the election.

Justice Ekwo had in a judgment delivered on December 4, 2020 sacked Ibezim as candidate of the APC for the December 5 by-election in Imo North Senatorial District.

Ekwo had disqualified Ibezim from contesting the election on the grounds that he made false statements/declarations in the affidavit and documents he submitted to his party and INEC.

The false information was in respect of his West African Examination (WAEC) certificate wherein the judge held that the names on the documents were not only different but irreconcilable and accordingly ordered his disqualification from the by-election.

Dissatisfied, Ibezim then approached the appellate court to set aside his disqualification.

However delivering judgment in the appeal yesterday, Justice Stephen Adah who read the lead judgment of the Court of Appeal held that the judgment of the trial court could not be faulted since it was evident that the appellant submitted false information to APC and INEC.

Adah stated that no other person’s other than the institution that awarded the certificate could lawfully effect correction on them.

He advised that candidates must be diligent with the way they put their names in documents, stressing that it is a serious thing if a person’s name is misplaced or spelt wrongly.

The court also disagreed with Ibezim that the case was statute barred, because from available records it was filed 11 days after the cause of action.

According to the appellate court the legal action was instituted on September 23, 2020 whereas INEC had received the said forged documents from the APC on September 13, 2020.

“The appeal lacks merit and it is accordingly dismissed”, Adah said