The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has faulted the judgement of the Federal High Court in Abuja on the December 2020 Imo North senatorial district bye-election.
In the judgement delivered on March 18, the court had ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue a Certificate of Return to Senator Ifeanyi Ararume.
Reacting to the court’s decision in a statement on Monday by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the party wondered how a matter that had been decided by the Supreme Court could be overruled by a Federal High Court.
“This judgment further heightens our fears that the All Progressives Congress (APC)-controlled Federal Government is bent on using certain officials within our judiciary to suppress the opposition and subvert the will of the people,” the party alleged.
It added, “It was clear to all that the Supreme Court on February 5, 2021, upheld the ruling of the Court of Appeal, which nullified the candidature of Senator Ifeanyi Ararume as APC candidate for Imo North senatorial district bye-election. That verdict of the Supreme Court puts to rest the candidature of Senator Ifeanyi Araraume.
“It is therefore bizarre that a Federal High Court which Senator Ifeanyi Araraume had approached to declare him the authentic candidate and order INEC to issue him Certificate of Return had done so in flagrant disregard to the Supreme Court ruling on the same matter.”
Influence Of Superior Power?
The PDP described the decision of the court as a direct miscarriage of justice, saying it posed a great danger to the nation’s democracy and should not be allowed to stand.
It stated that its candidate in the poll, Emmanuel Okewulonu, scored the highest valid votes cast since courts of competent jurisdictions had disqualified the two APC candidates, Frank Ibezim and Senator Ararume, less than 24 hours to the election.
The party explained that INEC excluded the names of the two candidates in the final list that was released on the strength of the disqualifications.
It claimed that INEC’s refusal to quickly declare Okewulonu as the winner of the election sold the electoral umpire out as being under the heavy influence of superior power.
“Had INEC done the needful at the time of the election by declaring Chief Okewulonu the winner, we would not have come to the current sorry pass where conflicting judicial orders are being churned out every second.
“We, therefore, reject this recent judgement and call on INEC to handover the Certificate of Return to Chief Emmanuel Okewulonu, who is the authentic winner of the December 5, 2020 Imo North senatorial bye-election, sequel to the ruling of the Supreme Court,” the PDP said.