All eyes are on the special panel set up by the Court of Appeal in Owerri, headed by Justice Uche Onyemenam to hear the appeal suit filed by one o f the APC contestants Frank Ibezim against the judgement of the Justice T.G. Ringim Federal High Court,Owerri ordering INEC to remove his name as the rightful APC candidate and replacing him with Ifeanyi Ararume, one of the contestants, who lost out earlier.
The panel which has other members as Justice Jamilu Tukur and Justice M.B. Idris will begin the hearing in Owerri.
The APC Electoral panel which conducted the Primaries had declared Ibezim duly elected after which his name was submitted to INEC. Shortly after, three other contestatnts declared themselves as winners and in the confusion that erupted, one of the contestants, Lady Uchenna Onyeiwu Ubah approached the Federal High Court in Owerri with three posers and asking some reliefs. The defendants in her suit were: 1. APC. 2 INEC. 3.Sen Godwin Ifeanyi Ararume. 4. Dr. Edith Chidinma Uwajumogu and 5 Hon. Mathew Omegara.
The posers raised were:1. Whether INEC is bound to accept the result of the APC panel; 2. Whether APC having successfully conducted its primaries is under legal obligation to submit the result to INEC; 3. Whether INEC is bound to accept the candidate so presented.
She equally asked for the following reliefs:1. A declaration that only the Chairman of the electoral Panel has the right to declare a winner; 2. That the declaration of Frank Ibezim as the candidate for APC is valid;3. That APC is bound to accept his candidature.
Shortly thereafter, Ifeanyi Araraume, one of the contestants filed a separate suit at the same Federal High Court in Owerri, asking to be declared winner, but his suit was not eventually heard because it was filed outside the statutory time allowed for filing pre-election matters.
However, in his final ruling on November 11, Justice Ringim ordered INEC to replace Frank Ibezim’s name with Ifeanyi Arararume’s name as the rightful APC candidate, a relief which was not sought for by the plaintiff. In fact Ibezim was not a respondent in the suit, neither did he put up an appearance.
Ibezim immediately approached the Appeal Court on these grounds: 1. That he was not a party to the originating summons initiated by Lady Uchenna Onyeiwu, now first respondent in his appeal; 2. That the judgement adversely and prejudicially affected his right as the duly nominated candidate of APC for Imo North;3. That the judgement took away his vested right as the duly elected candidate of APC, in his absence; 4. That against Justice Ringim’s judgement, he was never disqualified but was cleared to participate in the primary election and was duly declared winner; 5. That the lower court’s judgement against him was given without jurisdiction in that: a. He was a necessary Party to the proceedings in whose absence the Federal High court Owerri cannot exercise jurisdiction to hear or determine the case; b. He was not joined as party to the proceedings, even though he was the person adversely affected by the judgement.
On these grounds and many others, Ibezim wants the Court of Appeal to set aside the jugdement and bizarre consequential orders give against him which have no foundation in law and therefore restore his candidacy.
All stake holders and the entire people of Imo North earnestly await the Court of Appeal to do justice accordingly.