The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Friday, sacked the lawmaker representing Ibaji constituency in the Kogi State House of Assembly, Atule Egbunu.
The court, in a judgment that was delivered by Justice Inyang Ekwo, held that Egbunu who won a bye-election that was conducted for the constituency on December 5, 2020, with a total of 8, 515 votes, was unlawfully nominated by the All Progressive Congress, APC.
It declared the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Daniel Enefola who came second at the poll with a total of 4, 564 votes, as the winner.
The judgment followed a suit that was brought before the court by a chieftain of the APC in the state, Mr. Joseph Enemona.
The plaintiff who was an aspirant for the House of Assembly ticket approached the court to challenge the legality of a primary election the APC conducted on September 3, 2020.
He alleged that the party unlawfully excluded six aspirants from the primary election and equally stopped some delegates from voting at the poll.
The Plaintiff averred that while the law stipulated that the primary election should be conducted at the party secretariat in Onyedega, officials of the party, organised the election at a Mall.
He alleged that contrary to the provision of Section 85 of the Electoral Act, 2010, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, was not given 21 days’ notice before the purported primary election was held.
Besides, he alleged that whereas the APC guidelines stipulated direct primary election, officials of the party in the state manipulated the guidelines by conducting an indirect primary election.
He, therefore, urged the court to not only void the purported nomination of Egbunu as the candidate of the party but to also order the APC to conduct another primary election for the constituency.
Delivering judgment in the matter on Friday, the court said it was satisfied that the APC did not conduct a primary election that is known to the law.
Justice Ekwo held that while seven aspirants were to participate in the primary election, the party, unlawfully manipulated the system and made the participation for a single candidate.
He held that the APC acted in breach of the law when it conducted the purported primary election outside the party Secretariat.
Justice Ekwo, therefore, declared the purported APC primary election as illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional, null and void and subsequently set it aside.
He held that since the time for the conduct of primary election and nomination of candidates had lapsed, the candidate of the party which came second in the December 5, 2020 bye-election, should be sworn-in as the lawmaker for Ibaji constituency.