Court To Rule On Suit Seeking Soludo’s Disqualification On November 30
The Federal High Court, Abuja, yesterday, fixed November 30 for judgment in a suit challenging the qualification of the Governor-elect and Deputy Governor-elect Charles Soludo and Onyeka Ibezim, for the November 6 Anambra State gubernatorial election.
Justice Taiwo Taiwo picked the date after lawyers to the case made their final submissions. The plaintiffs, Adindu Valentine and Egwudike Chukwuebuk, are claiming that Soludo provided false information in the affidavit (Form EC9) that he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and thus should be deemed unqualified to stand for election.
In the suit marked, FHC/ABJ/CS/711/2021, the applicants contended that Soludo indicated, in the affidavit, that he was contesting the Aguata 2 Constituency seat when, in fact, he was contesting the Anambra governorship seat.
Defendants in the suit are INEC, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Soludo and Ibezim.
In their final submission, the plaintiffs’ lawyers, A. O. Ijeri and Kelvin Okoko, argued that having indicated the wrong seat he was contesting, Soludo supplied INEC with false information, violated extant legal provisions and ought to be disqualified.
As against the contention by lawyers to the second to fourth defendants, Ijeri agued that his clients have established that there was a cause of action and that the court has jurisdiction to determine the case.
Counsel to APGA and Soludo, Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), argued that the suit was without merit, adding that the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain it.
He argued that an error in an affidavit cannot be a basis to disqualify a candidate from election, noting that the false information contemplated in Section 31 of the Electoral Act was criminal in nature.
He maintained that the false information claimed by the plaintiff was not among the grounds stated in the Constitution for the disqualification of a candidate.
Lawyer to INEC, Bashir Abubakar, said his client did not file any process in the case and has elected to leave the decision at the discretion of the court.