Folalumi Alaran in Abuja
The Imo State Election Petitions Appeal Court 2 sitting in Lagos, on Saturday, declared Hon. Emeka Martins Chinedu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) the authentic candidate of the party, and winner of House of Representatives seat election for Ahiazu Mbaise/ Ezinihitte Federal Constituency election of Imo State.
In their ruling, the Appeal Court Justices led by Justice Georgewill agreed with the findings of the Election Petitions Tribunal and struck out the appeals by Hon. Nnanna Igbokwe of the All Progressive Congress (APC), and Labour Party (LP) candidate, Darlington Amaechi, as lacking in merit and law as the issues canvassed were not proved.
This judgement delivered by Court 2 of the Appeal Panel sitting in Lagos have again resolved once and for all the issue of venue of PDP primaries, a purely pre-election matter, which the Appeal Court lacks jurisdiction to entertain and which is the basis upon which the APC and Labour Party challenged the election of Hon. Chinedu Emeka.
Recall that on September 7, 2023, the National and State Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal for Imo State, which sat in Nasarawa State, declared Hon. Hon. Chinedu the rightful winner of the election for Ahiazu /Ezinifitte Mbaise federal constituency seat and also determined that other political parties lacked the authority or locus standi to interfere in the internal affairs of their opposing political party and that the issues of venue of primary election were purely pre-election matters, which the Tribunal lacks the powers and jurisdiction to dabble into. The arguments of citing another judgement delivered on PDP primaries by the Supreme Court had no connection or relationship with the eligibility of the respondents as the same Supreme Court had earlier affirmed the issue of the primary election of Chinedu Emeka and no other judgement can be imported to affect the legitimacy of his emergence in addition to the fact that the issues were pre-election issues which the Tribunal lacks jurisdiction to entertain.
The same issue of venue of PDP primaries in Imo State had been considered by the High Court, Appeal Court, and Supreme Court respectively, with Hon. Emeka Chinedu emerging victorious at all times, and Igbokwe of APC being deemed an unwelcome interloper who was attempting to interfere in the internal affairs of the PDP.
Also, recall that Hon. Chinedu Emeka and Hon. Ikeagwuonu Onyinye Ugochinyere (Ikenga) representing Ideato North and South Federal Constituency of Imo State participated in the PDP primary elections at same venue and before the February 25 elections, the Federal High Court, Appeal Court and Supreme Court also in unanimous judgements affirmed Ugochinyere’s emergence as a duly elected PDP candidate and declared him eligibile to contest the House of Representatives election, hence making any challenge against his emergence on the issue of pre-election venue of primary election baseless.
Consequently, the latest Appeal Court decision has once again laid the issues to rest as done by many Courts, including the Supreme Court.
Reacting to the verdict, the Center for Judicial Integrity Watch hailed the Appeal Court judgement affirming Chinedu Emeka’s election as victory for democracy as the issue of venue of PDP primaries and sponsorship are clear issues the Appeal Court and even Supreme Court have declared that the Tribunal lacks jurisdiction to entertain.
The Center, however, expressed the shocking decision of the same Appeal Panel to refuse to uphold the other election of another lawmaker, Hon. Jonas Okeke, whose primary election held at the same venue with Chinedu Emeka and advised that the Court should avoid creating the impression of ‘pick and chose’ on clear issues of law with abundant judicial precedent and constitutional provision.