Mr Tochukwu Okorie, Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ebonyi, was not legitimately nominated to run for the position, the Federal High Court in Abuja declared on Wednesday.
News Agency of Nigeria
Justice Ahmed Mohammed ruled in the complaint filed by Mr Silas Onu, challenging Okorie’s election, that Okorie was tardy in completing his nomination form and could not benefit from his wrongdoing.
He stated that Okorie submitted his nomination form on October 4, 2021, which was days after the time set by the criteria for congresses on October 1, 2021.
Okorie could not have been lawfully nominated and was ineligible to run in the election on Oct. 16, 2021, according to Justice Mohammed.
“It is the opinion of this court that the 2nd defendant (Okorie), was indolent in submitting his nomination form as provided in the guidelines issued by the PDP.
“In spite of this failure, he was still returned and declared elected. He cannot be allowed to benefit from his wrong doing,’’ the judge declared,
As a result, he told the PDP that only Onu had been properly nominated to run in the election on Oct. 16, 2021.
He also ordered the party to present Onu with a Certificate of Return recognising him as the legitimately elected Chairman of the PDP’s Ebonyi branch.
The judge approved Okorie’s request for a declaration that he was ineligible to run for office since he failed and refused to submit his nomination form by the deadline of Oct. 1, 2021.
He also allowed the petition for a determination that the Okorie’s involvement in the election was in violation of the clear and unequivocal schedule for the conduct of state congresses, rendering it null and void.
The judge had already dismissed the PDP’s preliminary objection, which claimed that Onu had not exhausted all internal processes for addressing party disputes before going to court.
The PDP’s objection failed, he said, because the party was silent on the date Okorie submitted his candidacy form.
He declared that the PDP’s inability to refute Onu’s accusation that Okorie submitted his candidacy form on October 4, rather than October 1, 2021, amounted to an admission of wrongdoing.
“The consequence is that Okorie’s nomination form submitted on Oct. 4, 2021 instead of Oct. 1, 2021 was submitted out of time,’’ Justice Mohammed insisted.
On Oct. 16, 2021, the Ebonyi branch of the PDP chose Okorie as chairman, according to the Nigerian News Agency (NAN).
Okorie received 1,240 votes to defeat previous Publicity Secretary Onu, who received 260 votes.
Onu, who was dissatisfied with the outcome, filed a lawsuit, naming the PDP Ebonyi chapter and Okorie as the first and second defendants, respectively.
Onu asked the court to rule on whether Okorie was qualified to run in the Oct. 16, 2021 election despite the fact that he had not submitted his candidacy form by the deadline of Oct. 1, 2021.
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