Court Disqualifies APC Candidate for Imo North Senatorial by-election
A Federal High Court in Abuja has disqualified Chukwuma Francis Ibezim as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Imo North Senatorial by-election.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a judgment on Friday, disqualified Ibezim from contesting the election on the grounds that he made false statements/declarations in the affidavit and documents he submitted to the APC and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), wherein he presented falsified and uncertified photocopies of West African Examination Council (WAEC) certificate.
The judgement was on a suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1229/2020 filed by Asomugha Tony Elebeke, with Ibezim, APC and INEC as defendants
Justice Ekwo found that the WASC certificate Ibezim submitted to his party, which the APC in turn handed to INEC, contained different and irreconcilable names – Ibezim Chukwuma Frank and Ibezim Francis Chukwuma.
The judge said: “There is something wrong with these results. The defence of the 1st defendant per the averments in paragraphs 26, 27, 28 and 29 of his counter-affidavit has not explained the variations in the three respective result sheets, neither have the said averments debunked the fact that Exhibits. A26, 27 and 28 were submitted to the 3rd defendant by the 2nd defendant or that the certified true copies of these exhibits were not obtained from the 3rdefendant.
“The 1st defendant, having not taken any step to controvert the case of plaintiff concerning the falsity of Exhibits A26, A27 and A28 has therefore allowed the case of the plaintiff to remain uncontroverted.
“I therefore find that Exhibits A26, A27 and A28 submitted are not authentic results and are self-contradictory. Therefore, they are false in all material particular and I so hold. I resolve issue one in favour of the plaintiff.
The judge found that Ibezim failed to prove that the various names in his credentials are one and the same.
The court faulted Ibezim’s claim that it was his senior brother, Emmanuel Ibezim who signed the declaration of age he submitted, noting that the signatures in the age declaration document and other documents he (Ibezim) admitted signing look the same.
“I find that the allegation that the 1st defendant signed the statutory declaration of age for himself (Exhibit A25) as the declarant/deponent, but purported to do so as his elder brother, Emmanuel Ibezim, is established with uncontroverted evidence in this case.”
Justice Ekwo also faulted the affidavit and newspaper publications Ibezim submitted in support of his claim that the names were all his.
“Again, I do not think that the 1st defendant can use affidavit to correct the names. It is common sense to state that the certificates were not issued by the court but the institutions authorized to issue them.
“If there is any error on any academic certificate, it is the institution that issued it that has the power to correct the error not the High Court Registry. It is in this regard that I find that Exhibit SF16 which is the affidavit of conciliation of name is bereft of probative value and I so hold.
“Now, that I have found that the information contained in the affidavit and other documents submitted by the 1st defendant to the 2nd and 3rd defendants is false, I enter judgement as follows:
* A declaration is hereby made that the 1st defendant is not qualified/eligible for nomination to contest Imo North Senatorial bye-election, having made false statements/declarations in the affidavit and documents he submitted to the 3rd defendant for the purpose of contesting Imo North Senatorial bye-election.
*An order of injunction is hereby made restraining the 3rd defendant from accepting the nomination of the 1st defendant as the 2nd defendant’s candidate for Imo North Senatorial bye-election.
“This means that this court has issued an order disqualifying the 1st defendant from contesting the Imo North Senatorial bye-election,” the judge said.
He proceeded to rebuke INEC for the way it went about defending Ibezim in the case, querying its impartiality.
“I must rebuke the 3rd defendant (INEC) for obvious partisanship in this case. It is not the place of the 3rd defendant to work so hard like a paid labourer to defend the 1st defendant.
“By the name of the 3rd defendant, it is an independent being. It must never allow itself to be tied to the apron strings of any person natural or artificial. Even though the labour of the 3rd defendant in this ended in in vain, such vigour merely to defend a party in a case questions the impartiality of the 3rd defendant and I will say no more.”