The Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, yesterday, declared Mr. Valentine Ozigbo as the validly elected governorship candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, (PDP) for the November 6, 2021, governorship election in Anambra State.
The appellate court made the declaration while delivering judgment in two appeals filed against the judgment of Justice Obiora Nwabunike of an Awka High Court, which recognised Sen. Ugochukwu Uba as the party’s candidate in the election.
The President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, who led a three-man panel of justices, held that the appeal filed by Valentine Ozigbo challenging the judgment of the Akwa High Court had merit.
It could be recalled that the judgment of the Awka High Court had barred Ozigbo from parading himself as the PDP candidate in the Anambra gubernatorial election slated for November 6.
Consequently, the court set aside the judgment of the Awka High Court delivered on July 19.
Ozigbo and the PDP, in two separate appeals, marked “CA/AW/223/2021“ and “CA/AW/234/2021“ had approached the appellate court to challenge the decision of Justice Nwabunike on the grounds that he erred in law when he affirmed Uba as the candidate of the PDP in the forthcoming election.
The three justices, in a unanimous judgment, ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to publish the names of Ozigbo and his running mate as duly nominated and elected candidates of the PDP for the election.
The court also awarded N10 million as an exemplary cost in Ozigbo’s favour.
The court berated Justice Nwabunike for sitting as an appellate court over the judgment of Justice Olukayode Adeniyi of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court.
The panel faulted Nwabunike for not only rubber-stamping the decision of Justice Adeniyi but also sitting as an appeal over a court of coordinate jurisdiction.
“We set aside the position of Justice Obiorah Nwabunike of Anambra High Court Awka, delivered on July 19, which had dismissed Ozigbo as the winner of the PDP primary,” she held.
According to Justice Dongban-Mensem, the decision of Justice Nwabunike was strange in law.
“We hereby affirm that Valentine Ozigbo is the duly elected candidate for the appellant (PDP) for the forthcoming Anambra governorship election slated for November 6.”
The panel held that the PDP affirmed that it conducted a primary election at the Prof. Dora Akunyili Women Development Centre, Awka, where Ozigbo and his running mate emerged winners and were so returned as candidates of the PDP.
The panel further held that the only organ charged with the responsibility of conducting party primaries and elections was a political party, insisting that there was nothing like parallel primary.
“Parallel primary is an aberration in law; it is not known to law. We have facts that the appellant, in this case, took all necessary steps to make sure that the primary election was conducted in line with party constitution and guidelines.
“It is said that you cannot put something on nothing; that is the fate of the purported primary held at St. Paul University. And so the primary, which was conducted at St. Paul University, Awka, on account of a decision of a court of coordinate jurisdiction, which has been set aside by this court, is strange in law.
“Ozigbo is the duly elected candidate of the PDP and shall be so recorded and returned by INEC for the November 6 election in Anambra,” the court declared.