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Court dismisses PDP’s preliminary objection to Victor Umeh’s appeal


….BY Michael Jegede.

“The preliminary objection filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against the appeal of Chief Victor Umeh over the ruling of the High Court compelling the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to include PDP in the Anambra Central senatorial rerun election, has been dismissed for lack of merit by the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal.

Upon INEC’s appeal of a Federal High Court judgement delivered by Justice Anwuli Chikere asking the electoral body to include PDP in the Anambra Central rerun poll, Umeh, the candidate of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) had sought for a leave to appeal the judgement from the Court of Appeal which was duly granted since on the 17th of May, 2016. But PDP filed a preliminary objection to the leave granted Umeh by the Appellate Court as an interested party.

Dismissing the preliminary objection on Friday, the Court of Appeal, in a ruling delivered by Justice Joseph Ekanem, awarded a cost of N100, 000 against the PDP in favour of Umeh.

Justice Ekanem described the PDP’s move for preliminary objection as an adventure into technicality which has no place in modern jurisprudence.

In his reaction to the dismissal of PDP’s preliminary objection, Umeh said: “We are happy that the Court of Appeal does not tolerate attempt by people who don’t have any good case to manipulate the court and delay the process of hearing appeals. With this dismissal of their preliminary objection to my appeal, they’ve been now exposed to defending a judgement that was not based on law. So, their days are numbered in their tricks to frustrate hearing of the appeal and clearing the way for the Anambra Central senatorial zone rerun election, where PDP has been clearly put out of the way by law.”

Asked if he was confident of final victory in the Anambra Central rerun battle, the former APGA national chairman responded: “Of course, I will always have faith in the law. Any time the law is applied, I will always succeed. What I have never done in my life is to file a frivolous appeal in court or file an action in court that has no substance in law. And that is why I am always victorious in all my legal battles. From the ruling today, the PDP clearly have been put on notice that they have no case. And that is why they have been running away from the appeal using preliminary objections and frivolous applications of motions to frustrate the hearing of the appeal. Otherwise, PDP being the beneficiary of the judgement of the High Court should be desperate for the appeal to be heard so that they can join the election. They know that what they did at the High Court was a travesty of justice, a decision that was not based on law. The judgement of the trial court flies in the face of a subsisting Supreme Court judgement that in a rerun election, no fresh candidate will be accepted. And curiously, the trial court that delivered judgement in favour of the PDP has consistently refused to get other political parties seeking to bring fresh candidate into the election in other places. She’s been dismissing them. On the 4th of July, she dismissed another suit filed by the Labour Party in Kogi State requesting the court to compel INEC to allow them change their candidate in the Kogi East rerun election that is taking place tomorrow 23rd of July. She dismissed that suit very clearly according to the law; that the period for nomination and substitution of candidate has since elapsed. One would then wonder why the period for nomination and candidates’ substitution has not elapsed in Anambra Central senatorial election.”

Clarifying that he did not apply for joinder at the Appellate Court, he said: “I didn’t file an application for joinder. People have been misleading the process in court. You cannot bring an application for joinder in an appeal at the Court of Appeal. The place you file application for joinder is at the trial court. Under the Court of Appeal rule you cannot apply to be joined in an appeal at the Court of Appeal. No! You can only go to the Court of Appeal to apply for leave to appeal against the judgement of a high court. And if the leave is granted, then you file an appeal, a separate appeal against that judgement. So, what I got from the Court of Appeal is a leave to appeal against the judgement of Anwuli Chikere. And with that leave granted to me, my appeal is now running independent of the INEC’s appeal. So, what I went to the Court of Appeal to seek is not a joinder as some are saying.”

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