The Supreme Court, yesterday, declined to remove Enugu State Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi from office over allegation that he was illegally nominated by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to contest the April 11, 2015 governorship election.
The apex court dismissed as lacking in merit, the suit which was lodged by a chieftain of the PDP in the state, Senator Anyogu Eze. In a unanimous verdict, a five-man panel of Justices of the apex court resolved all the issues against the appellant, even as it upheld the judgment of the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal which earlier affirmed Ugwuanyi’s election victory.
The apex court panel which was presided by Justice Kayode Ariwola, berated the appellant for raising issues it said was previously decided, saying there was no point re-litigating on issue bordering on the primary election that produced Ugwuanyi.
According to the court, by the provision of section 87 (4) and (9), the appellant who did not participate in the said primary election, lacked the locus-standi to query the outcome. “There is no substance in this appeal and it is accordingly dismissed.”The apex court further awarded N1million cost against the appellant, in favour of Ugwuanyi who was cited as the 4th Respondent. Eze had in his appeal marked SC/248/2017, prayed the apex court to sack Ugwuanyi from office on the premise that he was not validly nominated by the PDP for the gubernatorial election. He told the court that Ugwuanyi emerged from a kangaroo primary election he said was conducted on December 8, 2014, by some leaders of the party.
The appellant insisted that Ugwuanyi was merely handpicked by some persons at the National Headquarters of the party in Abuja, alleging that the purported primary election was organised with fake list of delegates. He argued that the primary poll that produced Ugwuanyi was in breach of section 87(4)(b)(I) of the Electoral Act. Eze who laid claim to the PDP governorship ticket in Enugu State having merged through a parallel primary election, prayed the court to set aside the decision of the Court of Appeal which validated the March 2, 2015 judgment of Justice Evoh Chukwu of the Federal High Court in Abuja which dismissed his suit. He urged the court to not only okay the parallel primary election that produced him, but to also declare him as the authentic governorship candidate of the party in Enugu State.
However, Governor Ugwuanyi challenged the competence of the suit, even as he prayed the court to dismiss the pre-election case for want of merit. Ugwuanyi argued that Eze lacked the locus-standi to query his ticket since he did not participate in the primary conducted by the National Working Committee of the PDP. He told the court that Eze walked out on the committee and refused to participate in the primary. Ugwuanyi further exhibited result of the primary he said was sanctioned by national leadership of the party. The document contained names of all the governorship aspirants, including Eze. He told the court that no result was credited to Eze since he boycotted the process.
Meanwhile, Senator Eze in a statement entitled “Power comes from God” has congratulated Ugwuanyi for the victory.In the statement he personally signed, Ayogu Eze said: “I wish to use this opportunity to congratulate my brother, His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi on his victory at the Supreme Court in the protracted governorship primary election petition.
“It has been a contest that has taken the better part of four years.“Having satisfied myself that I have exhausted all legal avenues open to me, I hereby extend my hand of fellowship to Governor Ugwuanyi as he settles down to the remaining part of his tenure. “It is my prayer that the conclusion of this matter will lead to the unfolding of more development programmes that will directly touch the lives of our people.
“Rt Hon. Ugwuanyi has been a brother and a friend for many years, and I believe it will not be difficult to join hands with him to develop our state. “Power comes from God and I therefore hereby pray the same God to continue to give the Governor the wisdom and equanimity of mind to govern Enugu State with love and even handedness.“At this point, let me thank my teeming supporters for their undying love through the course of this electoral battle. I will never be able to repay your kindness and steadfastness. “You are the heroes of the struggle and I shall ever be grateful to you for your faith, doggedness and sacrifice.”
“I know that in the course of this challenge, you must have endured some personal discomfort, occasioned by my shortcomings and personality deficits. I thank you immensely for bearing with me. “I will urge my supporters to extend the same support they had extended to me to the man that God has confirmed as the choice of the people,” Eze said.