A Federal High Court in Abuja has dismissed a suit to invalidate the election of Professor Charles Soludo in the just concluded Anambra State governorship election.
Adindu Valentine and Egwudike Chukwuebuka had instituted a suit against the election umpire; the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the winning party; the All progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), the governor-elect ad the deputy governor-elect; Professor Charles Soludo and Onyema Ibezim, seeking to nullify Soludo’s election.
In the suit marked: FHC/ ABJ/ CS/711/2021 by the plaintiffs seeking to nullify Professor Soludo’s election and that of his deputy governor-elect, they claimed Mr Soludo had provided false information in the affidavit that he submitted to INEC hence, should be deemed unqualified to stand for the election.
The plantiffs argued through their lawyer Kelvin Okoko, that Soludo provided false information in the affidavit he submitted to the electoral umpire.
They also alleged that Soludo indicated in the affidavit that he was contesting the Aguata II Constituency seat when, in fact, he was contesting the governorship seat. Okoko told the court that an affidavit by Ibezim, also submitted to INEC, contained false particulars considering that he stated that he was vying for Awka II Constituency seat.
He argued that having indicated the wrong seat on the form, Soludo violated extant legal provisions and ought to be disqualified.
Onyechi Ikpeazu, counsel for Mr Soludo and APGA argued that the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the matter. He also argued that an error in an affidavit is not grounds to disqualify a candidate from election as stipulated in the 1999 constitution.
Delivering his judgment, Justice Taiwo dismissed the preliminary objection challenging the competence of the suit and jurisdiction of the court to hear it.
He, however, held that the plaintiffs failed to establish that they had a reasonable cause of action and could not convince the court on how the alleged false information both Soludo and Ibezim supplied to INEC misled them.
The judge held that since the allegation by the plaintiffs were also criminal in nature, it ought to be proved beyond reasonable doubt.
Describing the suit as a waste of judicial time, Justice Taiwo said the court cannot be used to truncate the country’s democracy.
He thereafter, awarded a N2 million naira fine against the applicants to be paid to the 2nd, 3rd and 4th respondents in the suit. That means that the applicants will pay a total of N6 million fine.
Nnamdi Maduakor is a Writer, Investor and Entrepreneur