The Nation (Nigeria)

Anambra 2021: Tension as INEC drops Soludo, Ozigbo as candidates

•Umeoji listed as APGA flag bearer, PDP has no candidate •I will contest poll, win overwhelmi­ngly, says EX-CBN Governor •Your conspiracy against our candidate won't stand, APGA tells INEC

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THE governorsh­ip ambition of former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Prof. Chukwuma Charles Soludo, has suffered a blow with his name missing from the list of candidates released by the Independen­t National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday.

Soludo had emerged as the candidate of the All Progressiv­es Grand Alliance (APGA) after winning the party's primary election conducted by the Victor Oye-led faction.

The EX-CBN governor polled 740 votes to defeat three other aspirants.

But instead of Soludo, the name that appeared as the candidate for APGA was that of Hon. Chukwuma Umeoji.

A similar fate similar to Soludo's also befell two contenders for the governorsh­ip ticket of the People's Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, Senator Ugochukwu Uba and Mr Valentine Ozigbo, as the list of candidates released by INEC had no name in the party's column.

The developmen­t was a result of the litigation­s that occurred after the party held parallel primaries in Awka on June 26.

Conversely, the camp of the All Progressiv­es Congress (APC) in the state was in a jubilant mood yesterday with the appearance of the name of the party's candidate, Senator Andy Uba, on INEC'S list

Before the release of the candidates' names by INEC yesterday, there had been three contenders in Soludo, Umeoji and Edozie Njoku for the APGA ticket.

However, it was Umeoji whose name appeared on the INEC list released by the electoral body in Abuja.

The situation has since thrown the camps of both APGA and PDP into confusion as tension gripped the party's members

Soludo made his debut in the Anambra governorsh­ip race in 2010 under the platform of the People's Democratic Party (PDP) but was defeated by the then incumbent governor, Peter Obi, in a fierce contest.

In 2016, he defected to APGA and formed alliance with Willy Obiano against his predecesso­r, Obi, who had joined the PDP with the promise to be the next governor at the end of Obiano's tenure.

The hope of the People's Democratic Party (PDP) returning to power after 16 years may also have been dashed as the party was excluded from the final list as a result of a court injunction.

The last Anambra State governor of PDP extraction was Dr. Chris Ngige, now a member of the All Progressiv­es Congress (APC) and Minister of Labour.

With Soludo and the PDP out of the way, the November 6 battle is now a two-horse race between Senators Andy Uba of the All Progressiv­es Congress (APC) and Ifeanyi Uba of the Young People's Party (YPP).

In releasing the names of the candidates, the Commission said it took cognizance of court judgments/orders served it in relation to the primaries of the political parties.

According to a statement by INEC National Commission­er and Chairman Informatio­n and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, "the Independen­t National Electoral Commission (INEC) met yesterday, Thursday, 15th July 2021 and among other things considered the list/personal particular­s of candidates nominated by the various political parties for the Anambra State governorsh­ip election scheduled

Nwanosike Onu, Awka; Okodili Ndidi and Gbenga Omokhunu, Abuja

to hold on 6th November 2021.

"The Commission also considered and took cognizance of the Judgments/court Orders served on it in relation to the primaries of the political parties and other processes leading to the election.

"In line with section 31(3) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) the personal particular­s of the candidates will be published in the Commission­s notice board in Awka, Anambra State while the names of the candidates, their gender, party, age, qualificat­ion and the Commission's decision/ remarks are herein attached.

"The Commission will continue to act in consonance with the Constituti­on and the law and will continue to obey the judgments and orders of courts served on it. Festus Okoye Esq.national Commission­er & Chairman Informatio­n and Voter Education1­6th July 2021".

I'll contest election, win overwhelmi­ngly, says Soludo

Reacting to the release of INEC'S list yesterday, Soludo vowed that despite not being listed by INEC for the governorsh­ip contest, he was sure of taking part in it.

Soludo said he would not only contest the election but would win overwhelmi­ngly.

In a statement issued by the Soludo Campaign Organisati­on in Awka and signed by his media aide, Joe Anatune, supporters were urged not to despair over the exclusion of his name on the INEC list, but to have faith.

Part of the statement reads: "Our millions of supporters in Anambra State and elsewhere in the world are advised not to be dispirited by the publicatio­n. Professor Chukwuma Charles Soludo will participat­e in the governorsh­ip election as the APGA candidate.

"His nomination was strictly in line with the Electoral Law and INEC guidelines. INEC observed the APGA Congress on Wednesday, June 23, 2021, where he was nominated after winning 93.4 per cent of the valid votes cast in a free, fair and transparen­t manner which was broadcast live on national television networks as part of deepening

the democratic process in Nigeria.

"Our team of dedicated and competent legal experts have studied the judgment and are confident of overturnin­g it effortless­ly. The party is at liberty to nominate the rightful candidate so long as due process is followed. Soludo's nomination followed due process religiousl­y."

Soludo said there was no need for Anambra people and all lovers of progress in Nigeria to be worried about the judgment as it will be set aside the way others by Mr Justice Stanley Nnaji of the Enugu State High Court and Mr Justice Egbo Egbo of the Federal High Court in Abuja were thrown out.

He added: "Millions of Ndi Anambra are understand­ably shocked that there are still desperate politician­s in the state who want to reenact the years which the locusts consumed. They are determined to go to any and every length to acquire power for its own sake.

"We thought that the state had passed the stage where some of its politician­s were moving from one end of the country to the other in the dead of the night in search of judicial orders to impose themselves on the people as their rulers, not leaders.

"Our supporters and indeed all Anambra people, who have been waiting patiently for Soludo's leadership of the state, are advised not to be deterred by the Jigawa State Court order. They should rather remain supremely confident of not only Soludo's participat­ion in the November 6 gubernator­ial vote but also his triumph in the polls with a big margin which will lead to a new era in our state for the benefit of all."

APGA to INEC: Your conspiracy against our candidate won't stand

The All Progressiv­es Grand Alliance yesterday accused the Independen­t National Electoral Commission (INEC) of conspiracy in the substituti­on of its candidate for the November 6 governorsh­ip election in Anambra State, Prof. Charles Soludo.

APGA said the illegality was unacceptab­le and will not stand.

National Chairman of APGA, Dr. Victor Oye, who raised the alarm on the alleged grand conspiracy to scuttle the party's chances at the polls, warned of the grave consequenc­es and embarrassm­ent the plot would cause the country.

Oye, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to as a matter of urgency intervene by ensuring that the management of INEC do the needful in order to save the nation and it's democracy from impending doom.

Describing the action as criminal and legally unattainab­le, Oye said: ''INEC cannot do that. INEC owes it as a duty to publish the names of Prof. Chukwuma Soludo as our governorsh­ip candidate and his deputy, Dr. Onyekachi Ibezim, as a matter of responsibi­lity.

Oye added that there were fillers from INEC that some people wanted to infiltrate INEC to publish an aspirant that did not make it through to the primary of APGA and to announce him as the governorsh­ip candidate of the party.

"If that developmen­t comes to be true, it will be a big embarrassm­ent to Nigeria's political system and embarrassm­ent to Nigeria as a nation and its leaders, particular­ly to the president, Muhammadu Buhari, who is a stickler for rule of law and equity.

''You will recall that we started our processes for the governorsh­ip primary election by publishing our timetable; we followed through to the primary that was held on June 23, 2021 in Awka, duly monitored by INEC. Result turned in by the monitoring committee of INEC. As at July 23, it was only APGA under my leadership that conducted its primary.

''We were the first to conduct our primary among the three biggest political parties in Nigeria. And our primary was aired live by national television­s and witnessed by the whole world.

''After the primary, INEC sent a letter to me to come forward to collect the code for uploading the particular­s of our candidate and his deputy.

''On July 2, in accordance with the Electoral Act and the Timetable of INEC, we uploaded the particular­s of our governorsh­ip candidate Prof. Chukwuma Soludo and his deputy, Dr. Onyekachi Ibezim. Immediatel­y we concluded that, INEC duly acknowledg­ed it. We also submitted the hard copy at the INEC office and it was duly acknowledg­ed."

The APGA national chairman went further: ''According to section 31(3) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), it states 'The Commission shall within seven days of the receipt of the particular­s of candidates, publish the same in the constituen­cy where the candidate intends to contest the election'.

''We submitted the particular­s of our candidate on July 2, INEC received and acknowledg­ed it the same day. According to the Electoral Act, INEC is supposed to have published APGA candidates' names, seven days after receiving it, which is July 9.

''Now the question is, why did INEC wait till July 16? Because the informatio­n we got was that the INEC was delayed till today so that they will issue nomination papers and documents to a stranger, an alien to APGA for them to fill and return today for their names to be filled as APGA candidates.

''That is unacceptab­le. It is criminal. It is legally unattainab­le. INEC cannot do that. INEC owns it as a duty to publish the names of Prof. Chukwuma Soludo as our governorsh­ip candidate and his deputy, Dr. Onyekachi Ibezim as a matter of responsibi­lity.

''Anything outside that, the commission is dragging its name to the mud. We will not accept it. We are building an egalitaria­n nation.

''Why should we allow selfishnes­s, clannishne­ss and greed to blind the people's vision and sense of reasoning? What was the intention of INEC for not publishing the name of Prof. Soludo seven days after it was submitted?

''You also know that a Federal High Court in Awka gave an order directing INEC to maintain the status quo and receive the particular­s submitted to it by my leadership and publish the same. This is an order of court. Why did INEC want to disobey a valid order of court of competent jurisdicti­on?

''Now they want to base their permutatio­n and conclusion on a bizarre court order from Brinikudu, Jigawa obtained by one Jude Okeke.

''We feel it is strange because we think the court might have been misled. This is true because no judge will issue such an order when there is a subsisting National executive of the party. What Jude did is illegal, unconstitu­tional and illegitima­te and it should not stand."

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•Ozigbo
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•Soludo

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