Legal Practitioner and Spokesperson of the Atiku Abubakar presidential campaign during the 2023 presidential election, Daniel Bwala, has said that the Ebonyi State Governorship Election Appeal should go the way of the People’s Democratic Party (APC) if the decision of the Appeal Court on Plateau State Governorship case was followed.
Bwala, who was speaking yesterday, on Channels Television program, Politics Today, said “If the Appeal Court has said that PDP scored an own goal in Plateau, it should also be said that APC scored same own goal in Ebonyi State.”
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate , Ifeanyi Odii, had approached the tribunal, seeking the nullification of the election of Francis Nwifuru of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the Governor of Ebonyi State state on the ground of non-compliance with the Electoral Act 2022, arguing that the governor was at the time of the election, not qualified to contest the election on the platform of the APC because he was still a member of the PDP.
The Election Petitions Tribunal, had in its judgement on September 27, declined jurisdiction to entertain the ground of Nwifuru’s sponsorship by the APC, saying it was an internal political party matter. It said that the issue of nomination and sponsorship by a political party, being a pre-election matter, should have been challenged before the Federal High Court before the election.
However, in its judgement on the Plateau State, the Appeal Court held that the issue of qualification is both a pre-election and a post-election matter contrary to the position of tribunal, which held that the appellant lacked the locus to contest the validity of nomination of the candidate of another Party.
Speaking on the Channels Television program, Bwala posited that the fact in Ebonyi was that the candidate of APC, who is now the governor was a member of PDP as at the time he contested the governorship election.
He said the membership register of the PDP in his ward, which was submitted to INEC had the governor’s name and he was also a PDP member of the State House of Assembly as well as the speaker, even up till the time he was sworn in as governor.
Bwala pointed out that “As a member of the House of Assembly, he did not at any time declare on the floor of the House or anywhere that he had defected to the APC.
“He was paying his dues as member of the PDP and also went to court to say that he remained a PDP member when a case was filed seeking that the seats of the House of Assembly members who defected to the APC be declared vacant.
“Therefore, in the eyes of the law, the governor was a member of the PDP as at the time he contested.
“Now, if he was a member of PDP as at the time he contested, without prejudice to the fact that APC sponsored him, in the eyes of the law, can a candidate who belongs to two political parties contest an election?
“So, he, being a member of PDP, not sponsored by the PDP, was wrongly sponsored by the APC.
“This falls under the issue of qualification because the constitution says that a candidate must be a member of a political party and must be sponsored by that political party.
“Or can someone be sponsored by two political parties? Can someone be sponsored by a political party when the person has not left the other Party?
Can someone, in apparent disobedience to the Electoral Act maintained the membership of party A, while contesting election as candidate of party B? Answer to all these is no.
“Therefore, if we apply the principles of the judgment of the Court of Appeal in Plateau State, then the judgment of the Appeal Court regarding the case in Ebonyi State should be predictable, except the Appeal Court will want to contradict itself.”