By Chioma Obinagwam
The Imo State Election Petitions Appeal Court Panel 2, sitting in Lagos and Presided over by Justice Georgewill, has declared that the venue of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) primaries is valid and affirmed the victory of Emeka Martins Chinedu of the PDP as the winner of House of Representatives seat election for Ahiazu Mbaise/ Ezinihitte Federal Constituency election.
In their ruling, the Appeal Court Justices led by Justice Georgewill agreed with the findings of the tribunal court and struck out the appeals by Hon. Nnanna Igbokwe of the All Progressive Congress (APC), and the Labour Party (LP) candidate, Darlington Amaechi as lacking in merit and law.
The court held that the issues canvassed were not proved.
This judgement also resolved once and for all the issue of venue of venue of PDP primaries, which is purely pre election issue that the Appeal Court lacks jurisdiction to entertain and was the basis upon which the APC and LP challenged the election of Emeka.
On September 7, 2023, the tribunal for National and State Assembly for Imo State, which sat in Nassarawa , declared Emeka 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 party and that the issues of venue of primaries are purely pre election issues which the tribunal lacks the powers and jurisdiction to dabble into.
The arguments of citing another judgment delivered on PDP primaries by Supreme Court, the court held, had no connection or relationship with the eligibility of the respondents as the same Supreme Court have earlier affirmed the issue of the primary election of Emeka and no other judgement can be imported to effect the legitimacy of his emergence plus the fact that the issues are now pre election issues which the Tribunal lacks jurisdiction to entertain.
The issue of PDP primaries venue had been considered by the High Court, Appeal Court, and Supreme Court respectively, with Emeka Chinedu emerging victorious at all times, and Igbokwe of APC being deemed an interloper who was attempting to interfere in the internal affairs of the PDP.
Emeka and Ikeagwuonu Onyinye Ugochinyere (Ikenga) representing Ideato North and South Federal Constituency of Imo State had their PDP primary election at same venue before the election.
The federal high court, Appeal and Supreme Court also in a unanimous judgements affirmed Ugochinyere’s primary emergence and declared him eligible to contest the election, hence making any challenge against his emergence on the issue of pre election venue of primary baseless.
So, it’s surprising that the first tribunal gave a conflicting judgment, which voided Ugochinyere’s election in a petition filled by a candidate who came 3rd, got only 2000 votes and got only one polling unit out of 346 polling unit.
The candidate who had challenged Ugochinyere venue of primary at the Federal High Court and lost, including his LP counterpart, whose court case against Ugochinyere’s election was also dismissed.
This appeal decision has once again laid the issues to rest as done by many Appeal court including the supreme Court.
Reacting, the Centre for Judicial integrity watch hailed the Appeal Court judgement as victory for democracy because the venue of PDP primaries and sponsorship are clear issues that Tribunal lacks jurisdiction to entertain.
The Centre expressed shock on the decision of the same Appeal panel to refuse to uphold the other law maker’s election, Jonas Okeke, whose primary election held same venue with Emeka, and advised the Court to avoid creating the impression of pick and chose on clear issues of law with abundant judicial precedent and constitutional provision.