By Bright Ezimorah
As the information filtered that an Abuja Hight Court presided over by Justice Valentine Ashi has nullified the APGA senatorial election for Anambra South, not a few people were surprised.

Surprised because even as the preliminary elections across parties were fraught with irregularities that of APGA Anambra South Senatorial was adjudged most free and fair by the DSS, INEC, and the Media. This is not to say that there was not a hitch or two, but not enough to rob the election of fairness. It was a keenly contested election which, until the results were counted, was seen as anybody’s. The margin of victory which was a paltry 34 votes underscored this view.

The winner, Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu who polled a total vote of 211 to beat his closest rival, Iyom Bianca Ojukwu with 177 votes, was as shocked in victory as Bianca was in defeat. His composure soon after the results were announced, bespoke of unexpectedness. Nothing about him before or after the election showed he had fore knowledge of the outcome of the results. In fact, a journalist with Oracle newspaper who witnessed the event reported that much. “Even Ukachukwu was personally dazed as he couldn’t settle in his chair again and had to be made to sit pretty on the grass to enable him regain composure”.

It is a surprise to many therefore that the results of such an election would be contested in court, much less by an aspirant who polled a vote. The plaintiff, Okey Chidolue did not just record a vote which he probably cast for himself, but he betrayed no sign of somebody in the race to win. Of the lot, he was the least in terms of popularity and would have been a surprise he ever won. Expectedly, he followed up the result of the election with a congratulatory message to the winner and a personal visit to him at his country home in Orsumenyi. It is therefore a surprise to many what happened between October 3rd, 2018, when he congratulated Prince Ukachukwu and the time he decided to go to court. At least, he had ample time between the period he sent a text message and when he visited Orsumenyi in solidarity. It was enough time to reflect on the outcome of the election and possibly cancel the visit. But he did not. Rather he paid the visit and turned back to appeal an election he was clearly “not in contest”. If nothing else, the text message and the visit were not done in a day. Time elapsed.  So what went wrong? When did the idea come up? What does he want to achieve? And how does he want to achieve it? Is he acting a script by forces within and outside of the party who are threatened by Ukachukwu’s enormous political goodwill Ukachukwu? Or is he angling for any manner of settlement? None of these questions can be answered perfunctorily. They need diligent effort. But the actions of Chidolue clearly betray certain character flaw that has come to define many a politician. 

The idea to seek redress in a court outside Anambra state reminds us of the inglorious era of the past when justice was secured at a cost. And the State High Court, APO, FCT did not seem to have acted with prudence. The verdict of the Court suggested it acted outside of the trust for which it is held. In giving judgement, the presiding Judge, Justice Valentine Ashi left no one in doubt of his imprudence. He neither compelled INEC to recognize the plaintiff nor order the party to conduct fresh primary election in the senatorial zone. The judgement was in void, accomplishing nothing whatsoever. The Vanguard newspaper of 13th December 2018 reported it thus: “Meanwhile the Court declined to either compel INEC to recognize the plaintiff as APGA’s senatorial candidate or to order the party to conduct a fresh primary election for the district”. The All Progressives Grand Alliance the party whose ticket is in “contention” was not humoured by the outcome of the judgement. Reacting to it the party’s Director of Publicity, Ifeanacho Oguejiofor urged party faithful not to lose hope, but to remain strong as the Court did not act with prudence. He wrote: “It is imperative that the FCT Court did not declare the plaintiff Dr. Okey Chidolue as the winner of the Anambra South Senatorial District primary election of APGA. Rather, and in a most bizarre manner, the Court after nullifying the primary election directed parties to go to INEC and sort themselves out”.

However, restrained anybody will like to be, the Court decision in the words of Oguejiofor was bizarre indeed. Otherwise how can it be explained or what did the Court mean when it asked the parties to go and sort themselves out while anulling the election? It only calls to question how thoughtless some of these courts can be. How difficult it is becoming for folks to repose any manner of trust in them. This is especially so with courts of first instance. Hardly does their judgement stand studied interrogation of the superior courts. It is not clear what the plaintiff wants to achieve by going to court. It is also not readily fathomable what the Court in making the unclear pronouncement intends to communicate. Whatever, neither appears to thread the path of justice and it is a matter of time before the wrong will be corrected.
The goodwill enjoyed by Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu in Anambra South Senatorial Zone which gave him victory at the primary election is not likely to be sacrificed by at the whims of an emergent politician.

Bright Ezimorah
Writes from Ihiala


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