The Court of Appeal in Abuja on Thursday affirmed Ayogu Eze as the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress for the Saturday’s governorship election in Enugu State.
A three-man panel of the court, in a unanimous judgment, upheld the appeal filed by Eze, a former senator, to challenge an earlier verdict of the Federal High Court in Abuja, which removed him as the party’s governorship candidate in the state.
Delivering the lead judgment of the court, Justice Abdul Aboki held that the Federal High Court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case on the grounds that it was not filed within 14 days of the arising of the course of action as stipulated in section 285(9) of the 4th Alteration of the Nigerian Constitution.
Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja had granted the prayers in the suit filed by George Ogara challenging Eze’s emergence as the APC’s governorship candidate in the state.
The judge had ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission substitute Eze with Ogara as the candidate of the party ahead of the governorship poll.
But the Court of Appeal upturned the Federal High Court’s judgment on Thursday.
It held that Ogara’s suit before the lower court was caught by the 4th Alteration to the 1999 Constitution which made it mandatory for all pre-election matters to be filed within 14 days the course of action arose.
Justice Aboki noted that in breach of the constitutional provision, Ogara’s suit was filed before the Federal High Court more than 32 days after the governorship primaries that produced Eze as the party’s standard-bearer took place on October 4, 2018.
He added that not being filed within 14 days after the primaries held, the Federal High Court had lost jurisdiction to entertain the case for being statute-barred.
“Whatever right the respondent (Ogara) may have in his suit has been extinguished by law,” he ruled.