Court sacks Imo APC Rep-elect, orders INEC to return PDP candidate
A Federal High Court sitting in Owerri on Monday sacked the member-elect for Nkwerre/Nwangele/Njaba/Isu Federal Constituency of Imo, Mr Ugonna Ozurigbo.
Ozurigbo of APC resigned his position as the Deputy Speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly last Wednesday.
Justice Tijjani Ringim, who delivered the judgment, ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue a Certificate of Return to Kingsley Echendu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) learnt that neither PDP nor its candidate was a party to the suit.
The court said that the plaintiff, Harrison Nwadike, was the “rightful winner” of the primary election in the federal constituency.
Nwadike had taken his party, APC, and INEC to court over the submission of Ozurigbo’s name as the candidate of the party.
Nwadike prayed the court to declare him the APC rightful candidate, arguing that automatic tickets were unknown to the constitution.
The court in its judgment agreed with the petitioner that automatic tickets were unknown to law.
The judge said that the candidacy of Ozurigbo was illegitimate and ordered INEC to issue the PDP candidate, who came second in the general elections, with the certificate of return as the rightful winner of the election.
Nwadike told NAN that he agreed with the court that he was the rightful winner of the APC primary election.
He, however, said that it was wrong for the court to have declared the PDP candidate the lawful winner of the poll.
He said that he would go to court to challenge the aspect of the judgment which ordered INEC to issue a certificate of return to the PDP candidate.
Counsel for the PDP candidate, Stanley Imo, also told NAN that the court was right to have declared his client the rightful winner of the election.
He said, “The law is very clear on this. Nwadike did not participate in all the stages of the election but my client did.
“Now the court held that Ozurigbo was not the rightful candidate of the APC and said that the second runner-up, who is my client, that participated in all the stages of the elections, should be issued with the certificate of return.”
The PDP Publicity Secretary in the state, Mr Damian Opara, urged INEC to waste no time in issuing its candidate the certificate of return as ordered by the court.
Opara said that “the judgment has shown that impunity and illegality are bad. PDP held a perfect primary election and we are reaping the dividend.”
Efforts made by NAN to reach Ozurigbo were unsuccessful.