The crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Anambra State took another intriguing turn on Tuesday as a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt disqualified the party’s official candidate, Tony Nwoye, from contesting the governorship election on November 16, 2013.
In his ruling today, Justice S. A. Aliyu directed the party to forward the name of Mr. Nicholas Ukachukwu to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as its candidate for the election.
The judge gave the ruling after listening to arguments by Mr. Ukachukwu's lawyers, led by Rickey Tarfa, and the PDP’s lead lawyer, Mr. K. K. Eleja, who was accompanied by other counsel. Justice Aliyu stated that, “based on the dictates of paragraph 4 (a) Part IV of the Electoral Guidelines for Primary Elections of the PDP that the first defendant, Tony Nwoye was not eligible to participate and or take part in the gubernatorial primary election conducted on the 24th August 2013 by the second defendant for the selection of its candidate for the Anambra state governorship election scheduled to hold on November 16 2013 or any other date.”
Citing Section 87 of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended, Justice Aliyu said Mr. Ukachukwu was the only qualified aspirant who pooled the highest number of votes in the August 24 governorship primaries in the state. He then declared that Mr. Ukachukwu “is the duly elected candidate of the PDP to contest for the Anambra state governorship election scheduled to hold on November 16, 2013.”
The judge stated that “an order of injunction is hereby made restraining the first defendant (Tony Nwoye) from parading himself and or representing or holding out himself as the candidate of the second defendant (PDP) in the forthcoming Anambra state governorship election or otherwise representing that he was validly elected/chosen by the PDP as its candidate [in the governorship election] scheduled to hold on November 16 2013 or any other date.” He also made an order “restraining the second and third defendants from holding out, parading, recognizing or in whatever manner presenting to the 4th defendant any other person than the plaintiff (Ukachukwu) as the candidate of the second defendant (PDP) for the Anambra state governorship election scheduled to take place on November 16 2013 or any other date.”
Justice Aliyu also gave an order “restraining the 4th defendant from accepting, recognizing or acting upon, any name other than the name of the plaintiff as the PDP candidate for the Anambra state 2013 governorship election or in any way publishing, displaying, screening, putting on the ballot paper or howsoever dealing with any person other than the plaintiff as the second defendant’s candidate for the Anambra state governorship election scheduled to take place on November 16 2013 or any other date.”
He ordered INEC to “recognize, screen the plaintiff (Ukachukwu), publish and put his name on the ballot paper as the authentic candidate of the second defendant for the Anambra state governorship election.”
Clashing factions of the PDP in Anambra held two parallel governorship primaries on August 24, 2013. Senator Andy Uba emerged as the governorship candidate in one of the primaries supervised by INEC, while Mr. Nwoye, a former medical student who was thrown out in his first year by the authorities of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, was proclaimed winner of the other primary that was supervised by PDP officials from Abuja.
A source close to Mr. Ukachukwu told SaharaReporters that court order issued today had been served on all the principal officers and members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP. “We served the order on the relevant officers of the party at 4.40 p.m. today,” said the source.