Reprieve came the way of former Central Bank Governor Prof. Chukwuma Soludo on Thursday as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) recognised and listed him as the candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) for the November 6 governorship election in Anambra state.
This is coming as an High Court sitting in Owerri, the Imo state capital same Thursday insisted that the candidate of APGA for the election remains Hon. Chukwuma Umeoji and directed INEC to continue to recognise him as so pending the determination of the appeal filed on the substantive suit.
INEC published the name of Soludo for APGA among those of other political parties, saying however that the final list that would contain authentic candidates would be published October 7, 2021.
The Commission said it reenlisted Soludo’s following court order served on it.
However, an Owerri High Court ruling today, reaffirmed Hon. Chukwuma Umeoji as APGA governorship candidate and ordered INEC not to remove his name and replace it with Soludo as candidate of APGA for the election. The court then gave the Oye/Soludo faction of APGA the go-ahead to appeal its judgment.
Ruling on the application for stay of execution and leave to appeal filed by Chief Victor Oye, Hon Justice V.C Isiguzo granted him leave to appeal but refused to grant the order for stay of execution, going ahead, instead, to reaffirm its earlier judgment.
The court said that INEC cannot evade its duty to comply with the order of the court declaring Umeoji candidate and, therefore, has a legal obligation to continue to carry out, obey and comply with the extant, valid and subsisting judgment of this court delivered on July 28, 2021, which declared Umeoji candidate and ordered INEC to continue to recognize him and Jude Okeke pending the determination of the appeal filed by Victor Oye at the Appeal Court, Owerri.
National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee of INEC, Barr. Festus Okoye in a statement said INEC had met on Thursday (today) and deliberated on a number of issues, including the nomination of candidates for the Anambra Governorship election holding on 6th November 2021.
According to him, the Timetable and Schedule of Activities approved by the Commission on 18th January 2021 provides for the withdrawal/substitution of candidates in line with Section 35 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).
“Accordingly, by the deadline of 30th July 2021 fixed by the Commission, seven Governorship and 11 Deputy Governorship candidates were substituted by 11 out of the 18 political parties,” Okoye said.
“Similarly, the Commission was served with the judgement of the Court of Appeal (Kano Division) which set aside the judgement of the High Court of Jigawa State on the leadership of APGA and the nomination of its candidates for the Anambra Governorship election.
“However, the final list of candidates will be published on 7th October 2021 as provided in the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the election,” Okoye added.
Apart from APGA whose substitution was based on a court order, other parties which made substitutions are Accord, Action Alliance, African Action Congress (AAC), African Democratic Party (ADP), All Progressives Congress (APC), which substituted its deputy candidate, Allied Peoples Movement (APM), Nigeria Rescue Movement (NRM,) Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), Social Democratic Party (SDP), Young Peoples Party (YPP) and Zenith Labour Party (ZLP).