The Court of Appeal in Abuja yesterday further confirmed High Chief Ikechi Emenike as the duly elected governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Abia for the 2023 general election.
In a unanimous judgment deliver3d on three appeal cases before it, the appeal panel led by Hon Justice Peter Olabisi Ige held that the May 26, 2022 primary election through which Emenike emerged was valid and his candidacy has no blemish.
Both APC and its gubernatorial candidate, Emenike had filed separate appeals challenging the verdict delivered by Justice Binta Nyako validating a purported direct primary election that Sampson Uche Ogah claimed he had conducted and won. One of the governorship aspirants, Dan Eke also filed his own appeal challenging the judgment of the trial judge that recognised Ogah’s purported candidacy.
But the Appellate Court in the judgments delivered one after the other on Appeal No. CA/ABJ/1258 High Chief Ikechi Emenike Vs Dr Sampson Uche Ogah & 3 Ors; CA/ABJ/1257 APC Vs Dr Sampson Uche Ogah & 3 Ors resolved the appeals in favour of the appellants.
It also held that the appeal No. CA/ABJ/1297 filed by Dr Eke was successful, thereby dealing a crushing blow to Ogah’s claim to the Abia APC governorship ticket.
Justice Ige reprimanded Nyako for ignoring the issue of jurisdiction instead of resolving the issue given that it was fundamental in adjudication.
The panel also held that Ogah lacked the locus to challenge the outcome of the party primary since he did not participate in the exercise but instead claimed that he conducted a separate primary which was not sanctioned by his party.
The judgment of the trial court was practically torned into shreds by the appellate court as it upheld the earlier judgment of the Appeal Court in Owerri which affirmed Emenike’s candidacy.
In her controversial verdict, Justice Nyako had ignored not only the judgment of the Appellate Court in Owerri but also two other Appeal Court verdicts that were all resolved in favour of Emenike.
But Justice Ige and his learned colleagues held that they were bound by the judgment of Justice Pemu of the Court of Appeal Owerri, saying that Nyako’s judgment cannot displace the judgment of the Appeal Court, Owerri Division.
On the issue of Justice Nyako’s failure to invite address from counsel in the sole issue she had raised was a breach of fair hearing and therefore resolved it in Emenike’s favour.
The Appellate Court therefore held that the indirect primary conducted by APC in Abia was valid and frowned at the action of Nyako for upholding the purported direct primary of Ogah thereby suggesting that same was ratified by certain state chapter.
In delivering the unanimous verdict, Justice Ige read out the names of the members of the panel sent by the National Secretariat of APC to conduct the governorship primary that produced Emenike, affirming that the exercise was valid.
He faulted the report of INEC which Ogah had used to lback his claims, saying that a report by the electoral umpire “cannot validate an otherwise invalid primaries”.
“You cannot place something on nothing and expect it to stand. The INEC report is inchoate and cannot validate the primaries relied on by Ogah,” the Appellate Court held.
With this judgement Emenike remains the authentic governorship flag bearer of the All Progressives Congress in Abia State.