A justice of the Abuja division of the Court of Appeal, Justice Regina Nwodo has disqualified herself from hearing the appeal brought by Chief Alexander Chukwuemeka Obiechina, challenging the primary election of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that produced Governor Sulivan Chime of Enugu State.
Justice Adamu Bello of a Federal High Court had struck out the suit on the grounds that the plaintiff, Chief Alexander Chukwuemeka Obiechina lacked the locus standi to institute the action. Justice Adamu Bello who upheld the preliminary objections of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the incumbent governor held that having not participated in the disputed primaries, the plaintiff had no locus standi to challenge the outcome of the exercise.
But dissatisfied with the verdict of the trial court, the plaintiff through his counsel, Oba Maduabuchi approached the Court of Appeal to set aside the decision of the lower court and enter judgment in favour of his client. He contended that the court misunderstood the Supreme Court decision in Senator Lado Vs CPC and PDP vs Timpriye Sylva because an electoral process was not just the act of voting. “If you are an aspirant and for one reason or the other you are prevented from participating in an election, you are entitled to challenge the unlawful exclusion in a court of law.
“Section 87 of the Electoral Act does not make actual participation in the voting process a condition precedent for challenging the result of such an election. “The case of the plaintiff was whether there was compliance to the Electoral Act in the primaries that produced Governor Chime. All the parties, INEC, PDP and the governor agreed that he (plaintiff) was a candidate in the primaries, but he did not know the date the primaries took place, so it does not mean that he wasn’t a candidate.
“They were able to do it behind him because they did not give notice as required by law and that was why he came to court.” However, when the matter came up for hearing, one of the three justices on the panel, Justice Regina Nwodo voluntarily disqualified herself on the grounds of likelihood of bias since she is a sister-in-law to the former national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, who has interest in the matter.
Given the development, hearing in the appeal was stalled to allow a replacement for justice Nwodo. Accordingly, the appeal was adjourned to January 14, 2013. Meanwhile, a chieftain of the PDP, Chief Ogbu Uchenna Andrew has filed a motion on notice to join the appeal as an interested party. In his affidavit in support of his motion filed by his counsel, Gaius Nweze, the applicant averred that he was the deputy governorship candidate to Anayo Onwuegbu, who won the PDP primary governorship election for the governorship of Enugu State and the governorship election in Enugu State in April 2011.
He further averred that he was interested in contesting the position of governor of Enugu State and had purchased an expression of interest form, screened and fulfilled all the necessary requirements set out in the party guidelines.