June 11, 2024

Central News

at the center of it

Sacked Imo PDP’s HoR member Ugochinyere won’t obey court orders

Current House of Representatives (HoR) member for Ideato-North/South federal constituency Ikenga Ugochinyere says he does not countenance pronouncements of the court sacked from the green chamber on Sunday.
National and state assembly election petitions tribunal sacked Ugochinyere of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), saying his nomination to run for the office was irregular, therefore null and void.
However, the politician has been saying that he would not respect that judicial order nor obey the tribunal’s directive to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to exclude Ugochinyere and the PDP from the supplementary election for that seat within 90 days.
In a unanimous decision on Sunday, a three-member panel of the tribunal which conducted its proceedings in Nasarawa State, held that Ugochinyere was not validly nominated by the PDP to contest in the Ideato-North/South federal constituency election that held on February 25, 2023.
Consequently the tribunal has ordered INEC to conduct a supplementary election in the constituency within 90 days.

Supplementary election to exclude PDP, Ugochinyere — Tribunal
In his lead judgement, tribunal chairman, Justice Anthony Olotu Akpovi, specifically directed INEC to conduct polling in 55 units where elections did not hold on February 25, and that the PDP and its candidate Ikenga Ugochinyere should be excluded from the supplementary election.
The judgement followed a petition brought by candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC) Abazu Chika Benson who cited first to fifth respondents in the petition as INEC, Ugochinyere, PDP, candidate of the Labour Party (LP) Obi Paschal Chigozie, and LP.
Recalled that INEC had declared the PDP candidate, Ugochinyere, winner of the poll with a total of 13,026 votes, saying that LP’s Chigozie came second with 5,696 votes. The petitioner, APC’s Benson was credited with only 2,368 votes.
Dissatisfied, Benson went to the tribunal with his petition, wherein he contended that Ugochinyere was not qualified to participate in the contest.

PDP conducted invalid primary
Among other things, petitioner argued that all the votes that were credited to the PDP candidate amounted to wasted votes.
He stated that, contrary to the express provision of the Electoral Act, the PDP conducted its primary election in a venue that was outside the constituency.
In its judgement, the tribunal said oral and documentary evidence laid before it, established that the primary election the PDP conducted on May 25, 2022, which produced Ugochinyere as its candidate, was held at Aladinma Shopping Mall, in Owerri, a location that was outside Ideato North/South federal constituency.
Relying on the provisions of S.84(5)(c) of the Electoral Act 2022, the tribunal held that PDP’s primary was invalid and that a valid candidate could not have emerged from an invalid primary election.
“Failure of the PDP to abide by the sacrosanct provision of the act invalidates its sponsorship of the candidate,” Justice Akpovi held.
For a primary election to be valid, it must be done in compliance with S.29(1) of the act, the judge said, while holding that in view of the fact that Ugochinyere was not validly nominated, he was, therefore, not qualified as at the time of the election.

Unanimous decision
Further, tribunal held that owing to the principle of margin of lead, candidate of the LP, Chigozie, could not be declared winner of the seat, since INEC admitted that it could not hold election in 55 polling units in the constituency, owing to activities of unknown gunmen.
It, therefore, directed INEC to conduct supplementary polls in those polling units with all the parties participating, except the PDP and Ugochinyere.
Other members of the panel who concurred with the lead judgement, are Justices Usman Kudu and Ibrahim Mohammed.
Now, vehemently argues how a party nominated its for an election should not concern other contestants, their parties or indeed the tribunal.
Reacting to the court ruling, he has chosen to charge Imo State Gov. Hope Uzodima of being the “brain behind the confusion.”