ENUGU GUBER: COURT OKAYS CHIME AS PDP CANDIDATE
Governor Sulivan Chime of Enugu State on Wednesday in Abuja won a major political victory as a Federal High Court entered judgment in his favour as the authentic governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the State for the April general elections.
The court accordingly dismissed a suit filed by his main contender for the slot, Anayo Onwuegbu on the ground that it constituteD an abuse of court process. Onwuegbu had approached the court to stop Chime, contending that his emergence as the candidate of the party was fraudulent.
A ray of hope came his way when on January 31, 2011, the court issued an order restraining the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from recognising Chime as the candidate of the party.
However, things began to work against him legally when Justice Abdul Kafarati vacated the said order on the grounds that the PDP had already submitted the name of Chime as its candidate for the position contrary to plaintiff's claim.
Before the order was lifted, the court assumed jurisdiction to hear and determine the case brought by the plaintiff and adjourned the matter to February 23, 2011 for hearing.
In throwing out the suit, Justice Kafarati said besides, the subject matter of litigation was before another court for adjudication. Counsel to the governor, Mrs. Anayo Offia (SAN), had told the court that the plaintiff's matter was subject of litigation in a high court in Enugu and the Court of Appeal, Enugu, and, therefore, cannot survive in the Abuja Federal High Court. At the preliminary stage of the case, the exparte application was argued by Alex Izinyon (SAN) on behalf of Onwegbu and 38 others.
The court granted an interim order restraining the INEC from accepting or validating Mr. Chime's name as the party's standard bearer for the governorship poll. But INEC had on February 14, 2011 told the court to vacate the interim order restraining it from giving recognition to Governor Sullivan Chime as the governorship candidate of the PDP, in Enugu State .
The commission was joined by counsel to PDP, Chief Olusola Oke, who told the court that his client had indeed sent the name of Chime to INEC for publication on January 27, two days before the ex-parte order restraining the electoral body not to recognise Chime was issued. INEC through its counsel, Onyechi Ikpeazu, argued that the electoral body's decision to publish governor Chime's name was not out of interest but for the fear of having the PDP shut out from participating in the April polls.
He further submitted that as at the time INEC was to publish the name, it was Chime's name that was in the list submitted to it by the headquarters of the PDP and, therefore could not have published any other name that was not given by the party.