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Anambra Guber: Reprieve for Soludo as A’ Court sacks Okeke faction, orders INEC to substitute Umeoji

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By Lawrence Nwimo

Ahead of the November 6, 2021Governorship election, a former Central Bank Governor, Professor Charles Soludo and his Party- the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA were heaved a sigh of relieve as a Court of Appeal sitting in Kano set aside an Awka and Owerri Federal High Court’s rulings which recognized the Jude Okeke faction of the Party and its candidate, Rt. Hon. Chukwuma Umeoji as the authentic flag-bearer of the Party.

This is coming amid the crisis rocking the Party, which has led to the emergence two factions, each producing factional candidates for the Anambra November 6 Governorship election in the State.

It would be recalled that INEC’s Commissioner for Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye had said the earlier complied with Justice Musa Ubale, of a high court in Jigawa state, passed judgment in suit JDU/022/21, upholding the suspension of Victor Oye and affirming Jude Okeke as the Party’s  National Chairman on June 30, 2021.

Okoye had also cited another court order in suit number FCT/DW/CV/133/21 in which Bello Kawu, of an FCT High Court in Kubwa, on June 28, ordered INEC to monitor the primary election of the Jude Okeke faction and comply with the result.

Although Chukwuma Soludo, former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), who belongs to the Victor Oye-led faction of APGA had secured 740 votes to defeat other candidates in the Party’s primary election, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC had published the name of a member of the Federal House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Chukwuma Umeoji of the said Okeke-led faction over Soludo as the standard-bearer for APGA.

But the Appellate Court panel led by Justice Tsammani unanimously disagreed with the lower Court which ordered INEC to recognize Okeke’s faction and its factional candidate, Rt. Hon. Chukwuma Umeoji and consequently nullified the June 30th judgment of Birkin Kudu Division of Jigawa State High Court that sacked Chief Victor Oye as APGA National Chairman.

The Appeal Court also ruled that the Jigawa State High Court has no territorial or substantive jurisdiction to hear the suit.

The Appeal Court held that the lower Court in Jigawa State had no territorial jurisdiction to entertain the case in the first place.

Speaking on the development in a statement on Tuesday through its National Publicity Secretary, Tex Okechukwu, Oye asked INEC to immediately recognize Soludo as the APGA candidate for the Anambra governorship election.

“The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) has praised the judiciary for standing firm in defence of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and its statutes,” the statement reads.

Reacting to the unanimous judgment delivered by the three Justices of the Appeal Court, Kano Judicial Division today, the National Chairman of the Party, Ozonkpu Victor Ike Oye, described the judgment as a watershed in Nigeria’s political life.

The APGA boss also called on all those still feuding with the party to
embrace peace and return to the fold, so that the party would emerge victorious in the forthcoming governorship election.

“He praised the Justices that sat over the case for their courage, uprightness and commitment to the promotion of justice, equity and fairness.

Oye said that the judgment had renewed the hope of the people of the Party and the State.

Meanwhile, the Okeke-led factional Chairmanship of the Party and its purported candidate, Hon Chukwuma Umeoji, has vowed to challenge at the Supreme Court, the Appeal court’s ruling on the leadership crisis of the Party.

A statement signed by the faction’s National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Ikechukwu Chukwunyere, described the judgment as “a temporary setback which will be set aside by the Supreme Court as quickly and easily as possible.”

He maintained that counsels to Chief Jude Okeke-led leadership of the Party have been instructed to take all necessary steps to appeal the judgment up to the Supreme Court.

The Statement said, “Hon. Chukwuma Umeoji campaign will continue unhindered pending the judgment of the Supreme Court where victory is assured. All supporters and Party members are therefore urged to remain peaceful and law-abiding while maintaining the confidence level as there is nothing that can stop an idea whose time has come.”

Rejecting the Appeal court ruling, Chukwunyere said, “how could the Panel rule on the 30th of July, 2021 that the matter before it was a pre-election matter thereby struck out the Appeal by Chief Edozie Njoku filed on the 22nd July, 2021 that it was filed out of time and then come today to now rule that the case is no longer a pre-election matter just to allow Victor Oye’s appeal that was filed on the 30th July, 2021.

The campaign organization claimed that the Appellate Court turned the law
on its head by sitting on appeal over its earlier ruling and setting that ruling aside without consequential justice.

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