Abia North PDP backs Ikpeazu

Court of Appeal in Abuja, on Friday, upheld the decision of the Federal High Court that Governor Okezie Ikpeazu was duly elected to preside over the affairs of Abia State.
Ikpeazu was challenged by the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, candidate, Dr. Alex Otti, who had sought to benefit from the high court judgment that sacked Governor Ikpeazu from office.
But in a unanimous decision, a five-man panel of justices of the appellate held that Otti and his party lacked the locus standi to be joined as interested parties in the appeal that arose from the verdict of the lower court.
The court upheld the verdict of Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja, on the matter on June 27, which had bordered on qualification or otherwise of Ikpeazu to participate in the governorship primary election of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, held on December 8, 2014.
It held that since the issue related to qualification of candidates to be nominated or sponsored by the PDP, neither Otti nor APGA had the legal right to meddle in an inter-party affair of another political party.
It therefore declared: “a meddlesome interloper and busy-body”, stressing that under section section 87(9) of the Electoral Act, 2010, only those that participated in the PDP primary could question the outcome.
“The applicant who is a member of another political party has no locus to query process of nomination of another party. He is merely a busy body who has no locus to appeal against the whole decision of the lower court regarding the governorship primary election conducted by the 2nd Respondent on December 8, 2014.
“The applicants (Otti and APGA) had the onus to show the interest they have and how the judgement of the lower court adversely affected them.
“The applicants do not have sufficient legal grievance. They only have general interest which is equal to that of any other candidate that participated at the election. They are neither necessary nor desirable parties in this appeal.
“Moreover, the applicants could not have been joined as an interested party by the lower court”. The appellate court further held that Otti and APGA did not place enough materials for it to judicially and judiciously exercise discretion in their favour in line with section 243 of the constitution.
“The applicants have failed to establish any cognizable legal interest to warrant this court to join them as interested party in an inter-party dispute. “A complete stranger cannot be allowed to meddle the waters of this dispute.
“On the whole, this application lacks merit and it is accordingly dismissed with N50, 000 cost to each of the respondents except the 4th Respondent (INEC)”, the court held. Whereas the lead judgment was prepared by head of the panel, Justice Morenike Ogunwumiju, it was however delivered by Justice A. D. Yahaya. Otti and APGA had in the motion they filed on July 15, prayed the appellate court for leave to appeal as an interest parties, against the high court judgment that sacked Ikpeazu from office. Otti said he was not aware of pendency of the suit at the lower court until the verdict was delivered on June 27.
He argued that having secured the 2nd highest number of votes at the 2015 governorship election in Abia State, the judgment of the high court directly affected his interest, especially as it relates to the consequential orders that were made against Ikpeazu.
Placing reliance on section 243 of 1999 Constitution, Otti maintained that Mr. Sampson Ogah who had already been issued fresh Certificate of Return by INEC, has no locus to take over from Ikpeazu as Abia State governor since he did not participate in the election proper.
He contended that going by the high court judgment, PDP had no qualified candidate for the election.

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