A Federal High Court in Abuja has dismissed a suit to invalidate the election of Professor Charles Soludo in the just concluded Anambra State governorship poll.
The suit seeks to nullify the victory of the governor-elect and the deputy governor-elect, Onyeka Ibezim, on allegations that Soludo provided false information to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Justice Taiwo Taiwo dismissed the suit on Wednesday on grounds that it lacked merit and that it was a waste of the court’s time. He urged the plaintiffs not to use the court as a tool to stagnate democracy.
He also awarded N2 million to the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Soludo, and Ibezim who were the second, third, and fourth respondents in the suit. INEC was the first defendant.
The plaintiffs, Adindu Valentine and Egwudike Chukwuebuka, through their lawyer Kelvin Okoko, claimed that Soludo provided false information in the affidavit he submitted to the electoral umpire.
They also alleged that Soludo indicated in the affidavit that he was contesting the Aguata II Constituency seat when, in fact, he was contesting the governorship seat.
Okoko told the court that an affidavit by Ibezim, also submitted to INEC, contained false particulars considering that he stated that he was vying for Awka II Constituency seat.
He argued that having indicated the wrong seat on the form, Soludo violated extant legal provisions and ought to be disqualified.
But counsel for APGA and Soludo, Onyechi Ikpeazu, queried the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the matter which he maintained was statue barred.
He stressed that error in an affidavit could not be a basis to disqualify a candidate from an election.
Ikpeazu stated that the false information claimed by the plaintiffs was not among the grounds stated in the 1999 Constitution for the disqualification of a candidate.
Delivering his judgment, Justice Taiwo dismissed the preliminary objection challenging the competence of the suit and jurisdiction of the court to hear it.
He, however, held that the plaintiffs failed to establish that they had a reasonable cause of action and could not convince the court on how the alleged false information both Soludo and Ibezim supplied to INEC misled them.
The judge held that since the allegation by the plaintiffs were also criminal in nature, it ought to be proved beyond reasonable doubt.