Special Electoral Panel will today hear an appeal filed by Frank Ibezim against the judgment of Federal High Court, Owerri ordering Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to replace his (Ibezim) name with Ifeanyi Ararume as the rightful candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC) at the last senatorial election.
Ibezim is asking the panel, headed by Uche Onyemenam with Jamilu Tukur and M. B. Idris as members, “to set aside the judgment and consequential orders given against him which has no foundation in law and therefore restore his candidacy.”
The APC electoral panel, which conducted the primary had declared Ibezim duly elected and submitted his name to INEC, but shortly after, three other contestants declared themselves as winners.
Aside a suit by Uchenna Onyeiwu, one of the contestants, Araraume, another contestant, also filed a separate suit at the Federal High Court in Owerri, asking to be declared winner which was not heard because it was filed out of time. But in its judgment on November 11, the Court ordered INEC to replace Ibezim’s name with Ararume’s as the rightful candidate.
In the present suit before the panel set up by Court of Appeal, Owerri, Ibezim said he was not a party to the originating summons initiated by Onyeiwu and that the judgment adversely and prejudicially affected his right as the duly nominated candidate of APC for Imo North.
He said the judgment took away his vested right as the duly elected candidate in his absence and that he was never disqualified but cleared to participate in the primary and was duly declared winner.
Ibezim said the lower court’s judgment against him was given without jurisdiction, adding that he was a necessary party to the proceedings in whose absence the Federal High Court, Owerri, cannot exercise jurisdiction to hear or determine the case and that he was not joined as party to the proceedings, even though he was the person adversely affected by the judgment.