The Peoples Democratic Party’s Imo West senatorial primary election was invalidated by the Supreme Court on Friday.
The Supreme Court stated in a decision written by Justice Helen Ogunwumiji and read by Justice Emmanuel Agih that the PDP does not, according to the decision, have a senatorial candidate in the senatorial zone.
Jones Onyeriri, a former member of the House of Representatives who served the Nwangele/Isu/Njaba/Nkwerre federal district, won the Imo West Senatorial District primary with 228 votes, defeating closest challenger Thank God Ezeani with 118 votes and Jerry Alagbaso with 57 votes.
The ruling arose from an appeal filed by Nnamdi Thank God Ezeani against Jones Onyeriri and orhers with the reference number SC/CV/1441/2022 (respondents).
The judgement was on an appeal marked SC/CV/1441/2022 by Nnamdi Thank God Ezeani against Jones Onyeriri and orhers (respondents).
Earlier, the Supreme Court had decided on a similar appeal marked SC/CV/1440/2022 by Hon. Jerry Alagbaoso against the Independent National Electoral Commission and two others.
In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court held that Ezeani’s appeal “succeeds”.
The court noted that having conducted the senatorial primary election in Aladimma Owerri, outside of Orlu zone, the PDP had violated its own constitution and the Electoral Act.
Consequently, Justice Ogunwumiji opined that the PDP primary election for Imo West Senatorial District held in Owerri, was done in contravention of section 87(9) of the Electoral Act.
“The Act says that primary election to nominate candidate for a Senatorial District shall be held in the senatorial consitutency, and not outside the Senatorial zone.
“The primary election conducted in May, 2022, was held in Owerri.
“The PDP violated not only its constitution but also the Electoral Act, which is a statute.
“The act is illegal” and liable to be nullified.
Justice Ogunwumiji stated that the contention of the Respondents that it was agreed by parties to conduct the primary election outside Orlu zone was an error in law.
“The agreement to hold the primary election in Owerri violated the statute, Justice Ogunwumiji stated.
The Appellant’s lawyer, Azeez Taiwo Hassan said the problem started when his client’s petition challenging the conduct of the primary election outside Orlu zone was ignored.
“We challenged the nomination of the PDP candidate Hon Onyeriri at the Federal High Court Owerri and the court ruled against us.
“We headed to the Court of Appeal Owerri and was also overruled.
“But because we believed in our case and that the law was so clear, we approached the Supreme Court to arbitrate on the matter.
“By the judgement today, the Apex court has affirmed that our position all through from the lower court’s was right.
“The court by this judgment has validated the immutable principle and provision of the Electoral Act, that any primary election of a party must be conducted within the designated constituency or senatorial district” Azees Hassan said.