18 March 2021 By Victoria Abah
A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to declare Chief Ifeanyi Ararume as the winner of the December 5, 2020 bye-election for the Imo North Senatorial District of Imo state.
Justice Taiwo Taiwo held in a judgment that Ararume remained the authentic candidate of the All Progressive Congress, APC, in the election as at today and should be declared winner of that election.
The Judge also ordered the electoral body to issue a Certificate of Return to Ararume within 72 hours from the delivery of the judgment for him to be formally inaugurated by the Senate President.
Justice Taiwo dimissed the preliminary objection filed by the APC and one Chukwuma Francis Ibezim challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain Ararume’s suit.
He held that the objection lacked merit because Ibezim being purported by APC as its candidate in the by-election had been disqualified by a federal high court and later by the Court of Appeal for supplying false information to INEC to secure clearance for participation in the election.
Ararume had, through his counsel, Ahmed Raji, told Justice Taiwo to invoke the judgments of a Federal High Court and that of the Appeal Court to disqualify Ibezim and declare him as the rightful candidate for APC.
In opposing Ararume’s suit, APC had told the court that it never fielded Ararume for the December 2020 senatorial bye-election for Imo North Senatatorial district.
The party had, insisted that Ararume lacked the locus standi to lay claim to the candidacy because he did not even come second in the primary election conducted for candidate nomination and urged the court to dismiss his suit.
Ararume had dragged the INEC, APC and Ibezim before the Federal High Court praying for an order to compel INEC to recognize him as the APC senatorial candidate in the election won by the party.