Ike Nnachi, Abakaliki
Mrs Ann Agom-Eze, the runner-up in the May 28 primary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for Ebonyi South Senatorial District has appealed the High Court judgment which allowed fresh candidates for the re-run primary election for the constituency.
Mrs Agom-Ezem lost to Governor David Umahi’s brother, Austine in the first primary and joined the suit filed by Umahi seeking to be declared the candidate of the party for the senatorial zone.
Mr Umahi, was declared winner unopposed in the second primary after his younger brother, Austine withdrew as candidate of the party.
Justice Fatun Riman of the Abakaliki Division of the Federal High Court had last week struck out the suit by Umahi and directed the party to conduct another primary election within 14 days.
The Judge while noting that the party erred in not including Mrs Agom-Eze in the second primary ordered the party to include Mrs Agom-Eze’s name in the the third primary which has been fixed for July 31.
He, however, noted that the party may allow fresh aspirants in the said election a decision which Mrs Agom-Eze argued is wrong.
Mrs Agom-Eze in a statement on Thursday confirmed that she has appealed parts of the judgement.
She said: ” I have keenly noted all the discussions, claims, outbursts, assertions, and accusations on the above matter, particularly with respect to my person and my role in the matter, and wish to state as follows:
“That it was Governor David Umahi that went to Court, I only joined the suit as it affects me, and erroneous claims made against my person.
“That although the Judgment of Hon. Justice Riman of the Federal High Court, Abakaliki was partly in my favour, I have filed an appeal in the Court of Appeal to seek remedy over the order of the Court for fresh primaries to admit new aspirants.
“That the general public and all concerned should be mindful of the fact that this matter is pending in the court of Law and as such I expect all concerned to be patient and stay all actions and allow the matter to run its course in the court of Law, I urge my supporters to remain calm and law-abiding,” she said.
According to Court processes filed by her Lawyers, Mrs Agom-Eze raised four grounds of appeal against the lower court’s ruling even as she asked the court for 12 reliefs.
She also filed an application for stay of execution of part of the Judgment of the lower court relating to the conduct of a fresh Senatorial primary election pending the hearing and determination of the appeal.
The APC aspirant in her submission disagreed with the lower court where-in it ordered that fresh Contestants/Aspirants are allowed to participate or take part in the fresh primary election ordered by the court to take place within within 14 days.
In ground one, Mrs Agom-Eze argued that the trial court erred in law when it wrongly applied Section 33 of the Electoral Act 2022 to the peculiar circumstances of this case and ordered a fresh primary election for Ebonyi South Senatorial District within 14 days.
She argued that the lower courts was wrong to order the APC to admit Mr Umahi and other fresh contestants/Aspirants who did not participate in the first primaries held on 28th of May.
She further argued that that the time allowed for nomination of candidates under the Electoral Act, 2022 had elapsed.
“The period for primaries/nomination of fresh candidates had since elapsed under the Electoral Act, 2022 while the 2nd Respondent already has a standing candidate for the Ebonyi South Senatorial District in the person of the Appellant.
“The 2nd and 3rd Respondents(AP and INEC) need not conduct or monitor any fresh primaries which shall admit other aspirant/contestants but ought to affirm, ratify or recognize the Appellant as the candidate of the 2nd Respondent for Ebonyi South Senatorial District in the 2023 General Election.
“The trial court found in favour of the Appellant that she is the only standing aspirant of the 2nd Respondent for Ebonyi South Senatorial District but proceeded to order for fresh primary election for the position which shall admit other persons who were not aspirants/contestant as at the date of the judgment and same occasioned a miscarriage of Justice”,she argued.
On ground two, Mrs Agom-Eze argued that the Justice Fatun Riman erred in law when he failed to recognize and declare her the candidate of the party as she is the holder of the highest number of the subsisting valid votes cast at the primary election the first primary following the withdrawal of Mr Austine Umahi notwithstanding that the trial Court found that she did not withdraw her candidacy.
On ground three, the APC senatorial aspirant averred that the trial Court erred in law when despite its lack of jurisdiction, it granted reliefs in favour of none parties to the action and/or unknown aspirants/contestants and also granted to the 1st & 2nd Respondent, reliefs which they did not seek or claim at the lower court.
“The lower court granted a declaration that the second plaintiff Cannot alter, modify, amend, exclude or substitute the list of party aspirants who participated in its primary election of the party for the Ebonyi State senatorial District held on the 28 day of May, 2022 in Ebonyi state nor remove, delete, or exclude the name of the Applicant( Defendant) therefrom (but may allow fresh contestants/aspirants).”
She noted that the relief was granted to enable Umahi and other Aspirants/Contestants (who did not seek for the reliefs) and any other stranger to the proceedings access or leave to participate in the primary election ordered by the court.
“The Trial Court is not a father Christmas and lacks the jurisdiction to grant the above relief or any relief not sought for by any of the parties to the proceedings before it.
“The Trial Court lacks the jurisdiction to grant any relief in favour of other contestants/aspirants or a none party to the proceedings before it.
“The addition of the phrase or granting of the relief “but may allow fresh contestants/aspirants” is perverse and inconsistent with other parts of the reliefs granted in part by the trial court.
“The ex gratia relief granted by the trial court and the granting of the modified reliefs e,f,g, h and i in favor of the Appellant occasioned a miscarriage of justice,” she argued.
Mrs Agom-Eze prayed the court to enter judgment in her favour by allowing the appeal.
She further urged the court to declare that she is the only candidate remaining in the said election following the withdrawal of the winner of the first election.
She further urged the court to set aside the lower Court’s order allowing other contestants/aspirants who were neither parties to the proceedings at the lower court nor participants at the primary election of 28/05/2022.
She is also seeking the appeal courts order barring Austine Umahi and any other contestants/Aspirants other from participating or taking part in the primary election ordered by the lower court.
The appellant also asking the court for: an order restraining the 2nd Respondent to recognize; forward and submit the name of the Appellant to the 3 Respondent as the Senatorial Candidate of the 2nd Respondent in Ebonyi South Senatorial District forthwith.
“An order of injunction restraining the 3d Respondent from accepting or publishing, acting upon, recording or posting any other name than the name of the Appellant as the only authentic, duly and validly nominated Senatorial Candidate of the 2d Respondent in Ebonyi South Senatorial District.
“An order compelling the 3rd Respondent to accept the Appellant as the candidate of the 2d Respondent; recognize publish the Appellant’s name as the authentic Senatorial Candidate of the 2nd respondent.”