From Chuks Moses, Awka
The much anticipated judgement in the suit brought before the Federal High Court, Abuja presided over by Hon Justice Inyang Eden Ekwo by Chief George Moghalu against the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Andy Uba and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which was fixed for Thursday, November 4, 2021 has been deferred.
And this is why: Senator Andy Uba, the gubernatorial candidate, through his counsel, Abubakar Magaji Mahmud SAN, wrote the presiding judge on Nov 2, 2021 requesting for another date.
The learned Senior Advocate adduced plethora of reasons bothering on security and social upheaval that might break out if the judgement was read ahead the Nov 6, 2021 Governorship election in Anambra State.
He stated in part, in his letter, “….my Lord, the Honorable Chief Judge, would be aware of the apparent critical security challenges in Anambra state which has been further aggravated by the forthcoming gubernatorial election. The situation has caused a rather tense atmosphere and on the verge of snowballing into a near breakdown of law and order within the State.
“Thus there is no gain stating that if the Honorable trial court proceeded to deliver the said judgement on 4th November, 2021, prior to the forthcoming gubernatorial polls (depending on whichever way the judgement goes)Anambra State could be engulfed in untold anarchy and this could spread beyond the borders thus throwing the already tense country into a political turmoil…”
But in a quick response, Chief Chris Uche, Senior Advocate, and counsel to Moghalu pointed out that having painstakingly gone through the Federal High Court Acts and Civil procedure rules, there was nowhere such method or provision was found.
Chief Uche(SAN) surmised that, “…we may not understand the motive behind the letter, and the request contained therein, but we make bold to say that it is worrisome when a party to litigation engages in an act which smacks of an interference with the due administration of justice.
“If they were truly concerned about insecurity and serious breach of peacea as claimed in the letter, the Independent National Electoral Commission ought to have been approached, pursuant to Section 26 of the Electoral Act 2010, for the postponement of the election itself..”
Recall that Moghalu, of the APC was among the 14 governorship aspirants who had aspired for the same APC Anambra State Governorship ticket as Uba, had dragged the party and Uba to Court, saying that he was not satisfied with how Uba emerged the candidate.
He had claimed that the party primary scheduled for June 26, 2021 did not actually hold or follow the stipulated format at all, hence should be cancelled and the party and her flagbearer delisted from the Nov 6, 2021 Anambra Governorship election.
Moghalu, a foundation member of the APC, also alleged that the Electoral Act and the party’s (APC) guidelines were brazenly truncated in the purported primary claimed to have been conducted on June 26.
In the documents filed before the court by his counsel, Chief Chris Uche SAN, Chief Moghalu lamented that the Nomination/Expression of Interest forms cost him and other aspirants a whopping N23 million each, whereas “no primary election known to law was conducted by the party.”
Moreso, he tendered copies of the official report of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which confirmed that no primary election was conducted within the time stipulated by law. In addition he cited Sec 87 of the Electoral Act and Guidelines of the party (APC) that outlined the time to conduct any primary election to be between 8 a.m and 4 p.m. of the given date.
He had told the court that he and other delegates who had turned out to cast their votes in the primary election, as well as INEC officials who came to monitor the process waited till 7 p.m on June 26, 2021 without seeing party officials billed to conduct the primary election as planned. That they all left the venue/s when the reality dawned on them that no election would be conducted.
Moghalu, as well as other chieftains and leaders of the party in the State including the incumbent Minister of Labour and Productivity-Sen Chris Ngige amongst others said they were shocked when the following day the party announced that it had conducted a purported primary election and that one Emmanuel Andy Uba won.
He, therefore, urged Justice Ekwo to nullify the purported primary election and order a fresh one as there was no primary election by the party on June 26.
Consequently after a diligent proceeding, listening to the parties, the court slated Nov 4, 2021 for its verdict.