The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, candidate in the March 28 National Assembly elections in Anambra Central senatorial district, Uche Ekwunife, may not be qualified to participate in the re-run election ordered by the Enugu division of the Court of Appeal, which nullified her election.
This is as a result of the appellate court panel’s decision that Senator Ekwunife “was not the product of a valid primary and was therefore, not duly and legitimately nominated”.
The court further ruled that this has “disqualified her from contesting the election into the Anambra Central district”.
The election of Ekwunife as the senator representing Anambra Central was challenged by the candidate of All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, Chief Victor Umeh, who by this judgment, may have just become a senator even with a date for the re-run yet to be fixed by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, except the All Progressives Congress, APC, fields a candidate with the political clout to cause an upset.
From the full text of the certified true copy of the Appeal Court obtained in Enugu, yesterday by VANGUARD, the appellate court cited Supreme Court ruling on Wambai Vs Donatus (2014) that “a person cannot be qualified to be a candidate of a party except and unless he is nominated and sponsored by a political party”.
The court held that neither Ekwunife nor the PDP led evidence to prove that there was a primary and those who participated in such a primary where Ekwunife was elected, participated in the process.
Chairman of the appeal panel, Justice A.D. Yahaya, who read the judgment said: “After an election, if a person wishes to challenge the result of the election on ground of nomination/pre- election matter, he can legally do so before a tribunal under Section 138 (1) (a) of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended and it is wrong to hold that an election tribunal does not have jurisdiction to hear and determine such a matter”.
“Nomination is part and parcel of qualification to stand for an election and since an election can be challenged on the grounds of lack of qualification, it follows that the appropriate forum to challenge it after the election is held is the Election Tribunal”.
As at the time of publishing this report, attempts to get the reaction of the sacked Senator Ekwunife were unsuccessful.