Soludo to lose governorship mandate
OpenLife Nigeria has gathered that though Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) governorship candidate in the November 6 election in Anambra has been declared the winner and issued a Certificate Of Return by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, emerging signals, arising from a disqualification case to be decided on November 30, indicate that he may lose the peoples’ mandate if the court upholds the prayers of his opponent.
This indication is tied to the development at a Federal High Court in Abuja which, on Tuesday, fixed November 30 for the judgment in the suit challenging the qualification of Soludo and Deputy governor-elect, Onyeka Ibezim, to contest the last governorship election in the state.
Justice Taiwo Taiwo fixed the date after lawyers to parties made their final submissions.
The plaintiffs – Adindu Valentine and Egwudike Chukwuebuka – are contending that Soludo provided false information in the affidavit (Form EC9) that he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission and should be deemed unqualified to stand for election.
In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/711/2021, the plaintiffs claimed that Soludo indicated in the affidavit that he was contesting the Aguata 2 Constituency seat when, in fact, he was contesting the Anambra governorship seat.
Defendants in the suit are the Independent National Electoral Commission, the All Progressives Grand Alliance, Soludo and Ibezim.
In their final submission, plaintiffs’ lawyers, A. O. Ijeri and Kelvin Okoko, argued that having indicated the wrong seat he was contesting, Soludo supplied INEC with false information, violated extant legal provisions and ought to be disqualified.
“The constitution has made a state a constituency in relation to the governorship election, but in this case, the third defendant (Soludo) named Aguata 2 as the constituency he is contesting,” Ijeri said.
As against the contention by lawyers to the second to fourth defendants, Ijeri argued that his clients have established that there was a cause of action and that the court has jurisdiction to determine the case.
“The cause of action in a pre-election matter, by the provision of Section 285(9) of the Constitution, is determined by the date of the occurrence of the event, a decision or action complained about in the suit by the plaintiff.
“There is evidence that INEC received the submitted Form EC9 on July 6n 2021,” Ijeri said.
He then prayed the court to find merit in the case and grant the reliefs sought by the plaintiffs.
Lawyer for APGA and Soludo, Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), argued that the suit was without merit and that the court lacked jurisdiction.
Ikpeazu contended that error in an affidavit cannot be a basis to disqualify a candidate from the election, noting that the false information contemplated in Section 31 of the Electoral Act was criminal in nature.
Lawyer to Ibezim, C. Mbaeri, argued in a similar vein and prayed the court to uphold his objection and dismiss the suit.
Lawyer to INEC, Bashir Abubakar, said his client did not file any process in the case and has elected to leave the decision at the discretion of the court.