By Benjamin Arida/:
The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Friday, ordered the sack of a lawmaker representing Ibaji Constituency of Kogi state, Hon. Atule Egbunu, on the ground of unlawful nomination by his party, the All Progressives Congress, APC.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a judgment, declared Daniel Enefola of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP as the lawmaker for the constituency, having polled 4, 564 votes in the December 5, 2020 State House of Assembly by-election.
It has been reported that Egbunu was declared winner of the election having scored the highest votes of 8, 515 votes.
Joseph Enemona, one of the aspirants in the APC State House of Assembly primary, had instituted the suit against the party and four others.
Enemona, who was the plaintiff, had challenged the legality of the September 3, 2020 primary election claimed to have been conducted by his party.
He asserted that his party unlawfully excluded six other aspirants from the primary election and also did not allow delegates to vote at the poll.
The plaintiff further stated that while the law stipulated that the primary election be conducted at the party secretariat in Onyedega, the APC officials allegedly conducted the purported primary election in a mall.
He further contended that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC was not given 21 days’ notice before the purported primary election and as required by Section 85 of Electoral Act, 2010.
The plaintiff further hinged his case on the ground that while the APC guidelines stipulated direct primary election, the APC officials manipulated the guidelines and purportedly used indirect system to pick the purported candidate and demanded that the purported nomination of Egbunu be voided and another primary election be conducted.
However, Justice Ekwo, after reviewing submissions by parties in the matter, agreed that the APC did not conduct a primary election known to law.
The judge held that while seven aspirants were to participate in the primary election, the party unlawfully maneuvered the system and made the participation for a single candidate.
He also held that the APC ran afoul of the law by conducting the purported primary election outside the party secretariat as required by law.
Ekwo also faulted the purported substitution done between Matthew Oguche and Atule Egbunu on the ground that Oguche was not one of the legitimate aspirants before the election.
The judge, therefore, declared the purported APC primary election as illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional and subsequently set it aside.
Justice Ekwo said that since the time for primary and nomination had lapsed, the candidate who came second in the December 5, 2020 bye-election should be inaugurated as the lawmaker for Ibaji Constituency.