The camp of former Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Governor Prof. Charles Soludo, has rubbished the recent court orders declaring Chuma Umeoji as the candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA ahead of the November governorship election.
Most recently, the Imo State High Court sitting in Owerri, had on Wednesday declared Umeoji as the authentic candidate of the Anambra ruling party.
High Courts in Jigawa and a few other states have also delivered similar judgements in favour of the Jude Okeke-led faction of the party.
The Okeke-faction of the party is challenging the victory of Charles Soludo in the primary election that saw Umeoji’s disqualification during the screening process.
On Wednesday, the Imo State High court dismissed a suit filed before it seeking to nullify the Owerri Convention of APGA which led to the emergence of Chief Jude Okeke as the National Chairman of the party.
Speaking with NEWSMEN in reaction to the Imo High Court order and other similar rulings from High courts of different states, Hon. Pauly Onyeka, a spokesman to the former CBN Governor said that Jude Okeke, Umeoji and their co-travellers were going about doing what he described as ‘forum shopping.’
By this, he meant that they are moving from one court to the other; courts of the same level of jurisdiction and obtaining judgements from judges who, according to him, may be their friends and in the process making a mockery of the judiciary.
“In any party, you will have those that would not want things to go the normal way; those that would always want to play pranks and such are the people you see parading themselves with Okeke and Umeoji himself,” he said.
“According to the Constitution of this country, every party is to put up a guideline for its primary election. And that’s what APGA did.”
He explained that APGA had followed its guidelines strictly and religiously, leading to the emergence of Soludo as its candidate through a primary election that was shown live all over the world.
“And it was adjudged one of the best primary elections so far in the country. Umeoji himself was disqualified even before the primary,” he continued.
“He (Umeoji) was constitutionally disqualified because he was disqualified by a body that was put up to do the screening process and that body looked at him critically and believed that he does not have what it takes to be the candidate of APGA in such an election and then disqualified him.
“So having been disqualified, he doesn’t even stand any chance of parading himself as a candidate. For me, it is ridiculous that somebody who was disqualified; somebody who believes solely in the leadership of the party that’s as far as Victor Oyeh is concerned…this Umeoji believed in Victor Oyeh as the Chairman of the party and believed in everything he was doing that was why he subjected himself to the screening via that Victor Oyeh’s faction.
“Now immediately you found out that it didn’t favour you, that was the moment Victor Oyeh became for him a non-Chairman of APGA and he started looking for one nonsense or the other and before you knew it, he threw up someone who was a meddlesome interloper; someone who was not known in APGA as a stakeholder let alone being the National chairman and started following him and calling him his Chairman.
“And that was how the issue of Jigawa’s judgement came up. When you look at all these things, you’ll see that it’s somebody who wants to be the governor of a State by all means not that you want to subject yourself to the likeness or hatred of the people over you.
“That’s what a good person would do. Once the people say they don’t like you or they’re not voting for you, you go. Same thing as when the party says it doesn’t want you because you lack what it takes to be its candidate.
“But this time around, because he needs it, by all means, it’s not something that’s being pursued as a matter of reason. He’s pursuing his own candidature and election as a matter of course, not as a matter of reason. Now, they’ve started what we call ‘forum shopping.’ They are moving from one court to the other.
“And they go to courts of same level of jurisdiction. Is it not making a mockery of the judiciary? They had gone to Jigawa…instead of going to Anambra. We have many High Courts in Anambra here both state and federal but you decided to do forum-shopping maybe because you have a friend who is a judge somewhere that will give judgement.
“So you migrated all the way from here to Jigawa, Taraba and now he has also gone to Imo State. I mean, it doesn’t make sense. It’s so ridiculous. The Jigawa judgement was a nullity ab initio because it was a default judgement. It was given without proper constitution of the court.
“Soludo, INEC and APGA were not there at the court. It was only Umeoji’s people that came and at best they tried to impersonate INEC and APGA by sending someone who came and did the undoable by mentioning that he was representing the two.
“That is as bad as that. But this is a lot of rubbish that would be killed with only one stone. Once the Appeal Court in Kano starts its sitting on the matter, you’ll see how events would be unfolding.
“You can’t build something out of nothing. It’s not possible. So, immediately this issue comes up in the Appeal Court, it is very clear they’ll nullify all these things these people have been doing in the courts and uphold Soludo’s victory as APGA’s candidate.
“Mind you, courts don’t go into the internal issues of any political party, the only thing court does is to make sure you follow your guidelines and the constitution. And once the court sees that APGA followed its guidelines and the constitution in coming up with Soludo as its candidate, there is nothing any court can do about it.
“It’s something that is very fundamental as far as judicial issues are concerned in this country and even all over the world. The Imo State judgement falls into the same forum shopping.
“So how do you build something on nothing and you want it to stay? What would Imo State High Court do that is different from the one Jigawa has done?
“They’re courts of competent jurisdiction and no one can counter what the other has said and even if they did, the only court that will make such decisions strong is the Appeal Court. So we’re waiting for the Appeal Court. Just mind you that till tomorrow, Soludo remains the duly elected candidate of APGA in Anambra State.
“Don’t mind these jamborees the so-called Umeoji’s camp is throwing up. In fact, that guy is trying to popularise himself but in doing so, he’s ending up notorising himself. “