The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to nullify the participation of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the Dec. 5 Imo North Senatorial bye-election due to conflicting court orders.
The PDP candidate in the election, Mr. Emmanuel Okewulonu, made the call on Monday in Owerri, while speaking with newsmen on the subsisting court orders.
Okewulonu argued that the country’s electoral Act does not allow a political party to contest an election without a valid candidate.
He, therefore, called on INEC to declare PDP, which garnered the second highest number of votes, the winner of the election.
He further said that two different court orders also invalidated the candidacy of two APC flagbearers, Ifeanyi Ibezim and Ifeanyi Araraume, barely 24 hours to the election.
The PDP candidate contended that the development left APC without a candidate for the poll.
He further argued that, in line with extant laws, a political party should be disqualified from participating in an election “in the event that it presents more than one candidate for the same election”.
He said: ” Since two different courts of competent jurisdiction have disqualified the two major contenders from APC, it means that the party has no candidate and is therefore disqualified from participating in the election.
“If the political party claims to have two candidates going into the election, that still disqualifies the party and we must be able to uphold the sanctity of the judiciary.
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“We hereby call on INEC to disqualify APC on these grounds and declare PDP winner of the by-election, in line with the Electoral Act as amended.”
Okewulonu thanked the electorate for turning out en masse to cast their votes and promised to offer quality representation if eventually returned as the winner of the election.
Also, the state PDP Chairman, Mr Charles Ugwu, said the party would not allow what he described as a “rape of democracy” to stand.
He further said that PDP would employ all constitutional means available to seek redress until justice had been served.
It will be recalled that the Court of Appeal had declared Ibezim the rightful candidate of APC, thus nullifying an earlier judgment of the Federal High Court, Owerri, which invalidated his candidacy.
The court also sacked Araraume from contesting barely 24 hours to the election.
On the other hand, the Federal High Court, Abuja had declared Araraume as the candidate of the party on the grounds that Ibezim presented fake certificates to APC and INEC.