A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue a certificate of return to Ifeanyi Ararume based on the result of December 5, 2020, Imo North Senatorial bye-election, having been declared as the valid candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Justice Taiwo Taiwo who delivered the judgment ordered INEC to issue the certificate of return within 72 hours.
According to him, with regard to the Appeal Court judgment in Abuja, the third defendant (Chukwuma Ibezim) remained disqualified.
The Judge held in a judgment that Senator Ararume remains the authentic candidate of the APC and should be declared the winner of the election.
Earlier, Justice Taiwo dismissed the Preliminary Objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain Senator Ararume’s suit filed by the APC and Chukwuma Ibezim.
Justice Taiwo, who described the application as “an attempt to arrest the judgment,” dismissed it for lacking in merit.
Ararume had, through his counsel told Justice Taiwo Taiwo to invoke the judgments of a Federal High Court and that of an Appeal Court to disqualify Ibezim and declare him as the rightful candidate for APC.
Prior to the bye-election held on December 5, 2020, Ibezim and Araraume had fielded themselves as APC candidates.
Tunde Falola, who is the Counsel to Senator Ararume told journalists after the court ruling that the judgments of the High Court and later the Court of Appeal have conclusively disqualified Ibezim and therefore cannot claim to be an aspirant or candidate in the Imo North Senatorial election.
In opposing Senator Ararume’s suit, APC had told the court that it never fielded him for the December 5, 2020, senatorial bye-election for Imo North Senatorial District of Imo State.
The party had, insisted that Senator Ararume lacked the locus standi to lay claim to the candidacy and urged the court to dismiss his suit.
Senator Ararume then dragged INEC, APC, and Mister Ibezim before the Federal High Court praying for an order to compel INEC to recognise him as an APC senatorial candidate in the election won by the party.
He claimed that Ibezim, having been disqualified by a Federal High Court on account of supplying false information to INEC to secure clearance and same disqualification having been upheld by the Court of Appeal in Abuja had knocked off Ibezim from laying any claim to the outcome of the by-election.
But, the APC, through its counsel, Osho Daudu asked the court to discountenance Ararume’s claims insisting that his name was never forwarded to INEC but that of Chukwuma Francis Ibezim.
The counsel submitted that a Federal High Court judgment delivered in Owerri, Imo State which erroneously conferred locus on Ararume had been voided by Supreme Court and cannot confer any advantage on the plaintiff.
Emma Osayomi, representing Ibezim, in his own submissions, said that his client has approached the Supreme Court to challenge his disqualification on account of variation in his name.
The counsel argued that as at the election day, the name of his client was on the INEC list and not that of Ararume and urged the court to dismiss Ararume’s claims and hold that Chukwuma Ibezim remains the APC candidate.