(UPDATE) ONUIGBO VS ATUMA: The Role Of Emeka Obegolu, SAN
Supreme Court Agrees With Chief Emeka Obegolu, SAN, Dismisses Appeal By Emeka Atuma Represented By Ahmed Raji, SAN And Muiz Banire, SAN In Respect Of Abia Central Senatorial District Candidate Of The APC
The Supreme Court has dismissed the Appeal filed by Hon. Emeka Atuma in Appeal No. SC/CV/1626/2022 and the appeal filed by the All Progressives Congress APC in Appeal No. SC/CV/1627/2022.
The two appeals above were challenging the judgment of the Court of Appeal sitting in Owerri delivered by Hon. Justice Rita Pemu in, which affirmed Hon. Samuel Onuigbo as the validly nominated candidate of the All Progressives Congress for the 2023 Abia Central Senatorial district election.
Upon the conduct of the primaries for Abia Central Senatorial District, held on the 28th of May, 2022 and concluded on 29th May, 2022, Hon. Samuel Onuigbo was returned the winner of the said primaries, which was also monitored by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
However, the APC, on the 16th of June, 2022, forwarded the name of Hon. Emeka Atuma, who never participated in the said primaries, to INEC. Upon being made aware of this development, Hon. Samuel Onuigbo immediately briefed Chief Emeka Obegolu, SAN of Greenfield Chambers, who immediately wrote to INEC, not to recognize Hon. Emeka Atuma as the APC candidate for Abia Central Senatorial District.
Further to the above, a suit was filed at the Federal High Court sitting in Umuahia, challenging the unilateral substitution of the name of Hon. Samuel Onuigbo with that of Hon. Emeka Atuma, in SUIT NO: FHC/UM/CS/113/2022. The Federal High Court dismissed the claim of Hon. Samuel Onuigbo.
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Dissatisfied with the said judgment, an appeal was lodged at the Court of Appeal, Owerri division in APPEAL NO: CA/OW/404/2022, by Hon. Samuel Onuigbo.
Having perused the brief filed by the parties, the record of appeal and the Appellant’s brief settled by Emeka Obegolu, SAN, the Court of Appeal affirmed that Hon. Samuel Onuigbo was validly nominated in a primary election that took place on the 28 day of May, 2022.
It was on the basis of the judgment of the Court of Appeal that necessitated the two appeals lodged at the Supreme Court by Hon. Emeka Atuma and APC.
Chief Emeka Obegolu, SAN, in his brief urged the apex Court to give effect to the novel provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 (as Committee of Political Parties even when such primary elections are monitored by INEC as mandatorily provided for in the Electoral Act, 2022 (as amended).
The Supreme Court, on the 27th of January, 2023 agreed with the submissions of Chief Obegolu, SAN, affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeal and dismissed the two appeals lodged.
This judgment brings an end to a long tussle for the APC ticket for Abia Central Senatorial District, and by this judgment, the coast is clear for Hon. Samuel Onuigbo to fly the flag of the APC in the forthcoming 2023 General Elections.