The Supreme Court of Nigeria Wednesday, February 15 dismissed the appeal filed by opposition parties seeking to nullify Abia State Peoples Democratic party governorship primary election which produced late Prof Ikonne as its Governorship candidate among other candidates for other offices.
The case which had earlier been instituted at the Federal High Court, Umuahia by Barr. Ndudi Nwagbara, Onyekachi Abaribe and 5 others against INEC, PDP, Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu Prof Ikonne and 35 others, got to the Supreme Court in appeal number SC/CV/143/2023.
The case had commenced at the Federal High Court , Umuahia, with suit number FHC/UM/CS/62/22 but was dismissed on the basis that the claimants had no locus to initiate the suit since they did not participate in the said election.
The plaintiffs not satisfied with the judgement, proceeded to the Appeal Court. The appeal which was heard in January 2023 at the Appeal Court, Owerri Division, was equally thrown out by the Justices who upheld the judgement of the trial court in favour of the respondents.
The appellants then proceeded to the Supreme Court. But while delivering judgement on the matter, Justice John Okoro who read the lead judgement of seven presiding Justices upheld the verdicts of the lower courts and declared that the appellants ought not to have approached the Supreme Court on a matter for which it lacks jurisdiction.
Counsel to the appellants, Chief Chukwuma Wachukwu Ume, SAN was then directed by the Justices to withdraw the appeal, a directive which he promptly complied, and the matter was dismissed thereafter with ₦2m awarded in favour of the respondents which was to be paid personally by Chief Chukwuma Wachuku Ume SAN, for filling what the Justices described as a frivolous and vexatious appeal.
The plaintiffs had also sought the leave of court to substitute late Prof Eleazar Uche Ikonne’s name with that of Chief Okey Ahaiwe who is the new Abia PDP gubernatorial candidate in the suit. However, the move was vehemently opposed by counsels to the defendants who posited that Chief Okey Ahiwe was not a product of the first PDP primary election that produced Prof Ikonne, which was what was in contention, but a product of a different primary election and cannot be substituted as requested by the plaintiffs. The Supreme Court agreed with them and also dismissed the move by the plaintiffs.
The implication of that judgement is that there is no legal impediment for any of the Governorship, Senatorial, Federal House of Representatives and State House of Assembly candidates of the PDP in Abia State as opposition actors in the state had hoped.
Chief Okey Ahiwe was represented by Barr Emeka Eze, while Dr Livy Uzochukwu, SAN stood in for the PDP; Barr H Balogu represented the Governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, Okey Amaechi, SAN represented the Speaker of Abia State House of Assembly, Rt Hon Chinedum Enyinnaya Orji FNSE, Ukpai Ukairo represented Senator Mao Ohuabunwa while Dr Hagler stood in for Erondu Jnr and others.