FORMER Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor Professor Charles Soludo has suffered a major setback in his quest to become the next Anambra State governor after an Owerri high court ruled that his opponent Chukwuma Umeoji was the authentic candidate of his party.
Anambrans go to the polls on November 6 to elect a new governor and with the All Progressives Grand Alliance (Apga) being the ruling party in the state, the fight for its gubernatorial ticket has been fierce. On July 16, when the original list of contestants was published, the Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec) omitted Professor Soludo’s name from the list of cleared candidates despite him wining Apga’s primaries.
He then, however, went to court and an Awka high court reinstate Professor Soludo as the bonafide Apga gubernatorial candidate. In addition the court also ordered Inec to remove the already-published name of Chukwuma Umeoji, ordering him to stop parading himself as the Apga candidate.
Today, however, the pendulum swung back against Professor Soludo as the Owerri court struck out a petition brought by the Apga chairman brought by Victor Oye seeking to get Mr Umeoji dropped as the Apga candidate. Today’s ruling recognises Inec’s official candidate Mr Umeoji as the gubernatorial gladiator and Chief Jude Okeke as the Apga chairman.
According to the court, Inec cannot evade its duty to comply with the orders of the court declaring Mr Umeoji the Apga candidate. In its ruling, the court declared that Inec has a legal obligation to continue to carry out, obey and comply with the extant, valid and subsisting judgment of the courts delivered on July 28, 2021, which declared Mr Umeoji the Apga candidate and ordered the commission to continue to recognise him as the candidate and Jude Okeke as the Apga chairman pending the determination of the appeal filed by Mr Oye at the Court of Appeal in Owerri.
With today’s ruling, Inec is directly restrained from attempting to remove the name of Mr Umeoji as the Apga candidate from its list as it was rumoured that it was under pressure to do so. On August 10, 2021, the appeal court sitting in Kano had set aside another judgment of the Jigawa High Court which also held that Chief Okeke is Apga national chairman, declaring that only a governorship congress held by him shall be valid.