……..INEC PLANS NEW DATE FOR OUTSTANDING BYE ELECTIONS
FROM = EVEREST EZIHE, Owerri
A Federal High Court sitting in Owerri last Friday, declared Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, as the authentic candidate of the All Progressive Congress, APC, for the forthcoming Okigwe Senatorial bye election otherwise known as Imo North as against Hon. Frank Ibezim as recently endorsed by the party hierarcies and submitted to INEC even as Ibezim has announced his willingness to appeal against the judgement today (Monday 9th November,2020).
The presiding judge, Justice Garba Ringim, in his ruling, in Suit no FHC/Ow/101/2020, nullified the election of Frank Ibezim as candidate of the party, on the grounds that he was disqualified by the party’s Screening and AppealCommitees before the primary election, to elect a candidate of the political party for Okigwe senate election.
He said it point-blank that Ibezim should not have participated in the Party Primary abinitio and therefore any vote for him remains a nullity.The Court further insisted that the APC errred by submitting Ibezim’s name to INEC as candidate of the political party for the bye election.
The Judge also gave an immediate order to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to replace Ibezim with Senator Ifeanyi Araraume as candidate of the party.
Recall that Senator Ifeanyi Araraume had approached the court, disputing the nomination of Mr. Ibezim as candidate of the party for Okigwe senate election claiming irregularities and imposition from the camp of Governor Hope Uzodimma.
It’s equally immediate to remember that as a result of the legal frameworks by both parties, the Court had after proceedings on October 16 adopted briefs of counsels on the matter and reserved judgement for October 27.
Unfortunately despite the political tensed up and suspense the Court did not pass judgement on the said date as the presiding judge was not on sit and this heightened the political climate.
Recalled that political pundits and analyst in the state have awashed the media and the general public that APC Okigwe Senate primary had generated controversy as parallel primaries were held dividing the party into two political factionalized camps with Governor Uzodimma and his supporters backing Ibezim’s candidature while the other faction spearheaded by Senator Godwin Ifeanyi Ararume has the backings of his infectious grassroot based members of his campaign structure- Destiny Organization
The APC had forwarded the name of Frank Ibezim, to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, as authentic candidate of the party for the Okigwe Senate bye election, a move which last Friday was truncated and nullified by the Federal High Court.
Meanwhile,the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, said over the weekend that it will convene a meeting of its Resident Electoral Commissioners this Thursday being November 12, to decide on a date to hold the lingering bye election in Imo North senatorial district, and 14 outstanding elections in 11 states of the federation.
INEC, in a statement by her National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, however lamented on the level of damage and vandalization of its offices and facilities, including in areas where bye elections are to hold.
According to him“The public will recall that the Commission met on October 22, 2020 with Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) to deliberate on the 15 outstanding bye-elections in 11 States of the federation earlier scheduled for October 31, 2020.
“Due to the security situation in the country at the time, the Commission decided to suspend the bye-elections and meet in two weeks to review its decision.
The Commission met on Thursday November 5, 2020 to further review the situation and decided that:
“The Commission suffered extensive damage to Endsars protesting hoodlums and vandalization of its local government offices and facilities, including the areas where the bye-elections are scheduled to hold. It is important to consult all the critical stakeholders in the electoral process before deciding on a definite date for the conduct of the bye-elections
“Consequently, the Commission will consult with political parties and civil society organisations on Tuesday November 10, 2020 and then with the media and Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) on Wednesday November 11, 2020.
“The Commission will thereafter meet again with the Resident Electoral Commissioners on Thursday, November 12, 2020 to decide on a date for the conduct of the bye-elections.
“We appeal to all stakeholders to continue to cooperate with the Commission in its efforts to conduct credible elections under a safe and conducive environment,” the electoral commission noted in the statement.