Theodore Orji floors opponent at Supreme Court

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Nnamdi Felix / Abuja

The Abia state Governor, Chief Theodore Orji on Friday floored a fellow party chieftain who had been challenging the validity of the governor’s candidacy at the April 2011 gubernatorial election in the state.

The Supreme Court in its judgment declared that Theodore Orji was the Peoples Democratic Party’s candidate for the election.

The court in a unanimous judgment dismissed an appeal instituted by Chief Ikechi Emenike, who had asked the court to hold that he, and not the governor, was the one who won the party’s primary and should therefore be declared the party’s candidate and winner of the election.

Justice Afolabi Fabiyi who delivered the judgment of the court said that Emenike failed to substantiate his claim that he was the duly selected person to run for the office of governor under the platform of the PDP.

Emenike had claimed in his suit that he was screened, cleared and duly elected at a primary election conducted by the State Executive Committee of the PDP after the state’s exco modified the party’s Electoral Guidelines.

The court however disagreed with the party chieftain and observed that the PDP’s Constitution and Guidelines did not confer any power on the state exco to modify the guidelines.

The apex court also held that the state exco did not have the power to set up a gubernatorial screening committee and noted that chief Emenike was not cleared by the leadership of the PDP and as such did not participate in the primary election authorized and organized by the National Executive Committee of the party.

The court found as a fact that Emenike did not take part in the primary authorized by the leadership of the PDP.

According to Justice Fabiyi, “The appellant, as extant in the record of appeal, and admitted by him, did not take part in the primary election authorized and organized by the National Working Committee of the party. Since he did not take part in the valid primary election, to my mind, he had no competent cause of action to activate the jurisdiction of the trial court.”

The court established the fact that orji was cleared by the Gubernatorial Screening Panel set up by PDP’s NEC.

Justice Fabiyi further stated that having not participated in the primary recognized by the PDP, Emenike had no right to challenge the emergence of Orji as the party’s candidate. The appeal was subsequently dismissed and the court ordered Emenike to pay each of the respondents (there are four of them) the sum of N50,000.00 each as costs.

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In his concurrent judgment, justice Christopher Chukwuma-Eneh said that it was not the business of the court to choose candidates for political parties.

He advised politicians to stop belaboring the courts with internal affairs of their parties.

In his reaction, Gov. Theodore Orji said the Supreme Court judgment on the 2011 governorship pre-election matter in the state had become “an eye-opener’’ to seekers of elective offices.

“This should be an eye-opener for every politician not to depend on the court to win elections.

“You should work hard before the election, do something for the people and show cause why they should vote for you during the election,’’ he said.

The governor further urged politicians to test their popularity among their people.

“You should also make yourself amiable to the party for it (party) to nominate you as its candidate for election.’’

According to him, the post-election litigations are a serious distraction, as he is one of the governors with the highest number of litigations from people, who thought they can unseat me.

“God has ordained me to be governor and my time to leave is 2015,’’ he said, while urging opponents to join hands with him to transform the state.

Meanwhile, the governor on Friday inaugurated three roads in Umuahia, the state capital, as a part of activities marking his fifth year.

The inaugurated roads were the Nkata bye-pass, Nkata-Amaeke Road and Amuzukwu-Mbom Road.