Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
The Court of Appeal sitting in Owerri, has sacked Chief Emeka Atuma as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, for Abia Central senatorial district in the 2023 election.
Justice Justice Rita Pemu, who presided over the court, held that Chief Sam Onuigbo is the authentic candidate of the party, and ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to recognise him as such.
Chief Onuigbo who scored the highest number of votes in the primary was shortchanged by the party which did not submit his name to INEC, but instead, submitted the name of Atuma who did not even participate in the senatorial primary.
Ikengaonline recalls that Onuigbo had finished top ahead of Chief Henry Ikoh who was later appointed Minister of State for Science and Technology.
Atuma came second in the governorship primary where he lost to Chief Ikechi Emenike, but his name was submitted to INEC by the leadership of APC, an action that Onuigbo challenged at the Federal High Court Umuahia but lost.
He, therefore, proceeded to the Court of Appeal Owerri which now declared him the authentic candidate of APC.
Granting the prayers of Onuigbo, the Appellate court upheld the legality of the party primary held on May 28, 2022, which produced Onuigbo who scored the highest number of votes.
Onuigbo had argued that it amounted to rascality and provocative imposition for Atuma who never participated in the senatorial primary to be recognized as the party’s flag bearer.
The lawmaker who was responding to the judgement of the Appellate court in a press statement issued Thursday in Umuahia, thanked the judiciary for restoring his mandate.
He expressed satisfaction that the judiciary had stood firm against impunity and rascality.
The statement made available to Ikengaonline read in part: “I welcome with happiness the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Owerri, which confirmed my legitimacy as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for Abia Central Senatorial District. Truly, the judiciary remains the only hope of the common man.
“A lot of work was put into structuring the 2022 Electoral Act and it is my belief as one of those who worked hard on it that this important piece of legislation will strengthen our democracy and take it to the next level.
“My appreciation goes to God for the strength, provision of resources, and wisdom in this quest to ensure that justice is done.
“I also thank my family, my friends, my political team, my legal team, the media, and all my supporters for solidly standing behind me as we joined Abians, Nigerians, and indeed young people across the country to ensure that impunity did not reign.
“This victory is a triumph of justice. May we always work hard to enthrone justice wherever we find ourselves.”