The Court of Appeal in Abuja has upheld the disqualification of Imo North Senator-elect Chief Chukwuma Francis Ibezim as the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in the December 5, 2020 by-election.
Ibezim was sacked as an APC candidate due to irreconcilable differences in the names on the certificates he presented to secure the nomination.
He was also accused of supplying false information in his other documents.
Ibezim had contested his disqualification at an Abuja Federal High Court.
Justice Inyang Ekwo-led court had, in a judgment delivered on December 4, 2020, sacked Ibezim as the APC candidate because he made false statements and declarations in the affidavit documents he submitted to his party, the APC and INEC.
The false information was in respect of his West African Examination Council (WAEC) certificate. The judge held that the documents’ names were not only different but irreconcilable and accordingly ordered his disqualification from the by-election.
One of the certificates bears Chukwuemeka Frank Ibezim and another Francis Ibezim Chukwuemeka, among other differences.
Dissatisfied with the high court decision, Ibezim, the favored candidate of Governor Hope Uzodimma, then approached the Appeal Court with a prayer that his disqualification is voided and set aside.
However, a three-person panel of Justices of the Appeal Court presided by Justice Abubakar Yahaya in a unanimous judgment agreed with Justice Inyang Ekwo that Ibezim submitted false information to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in aid of his qualification for the Imo North Senatorial by-election.
Delivering judgment, Justice Stephen Adah, who read the Court of Appeal’s unanimous judgment, held that the judgment of the High Court could not be faulted since it was evident that the appellant submitted false information to APC and INEC.
Justice Adah stated that no other person’s order than the institution that awarded certificates could lawfully effect a correction on them.
He advised that candidates must be diligent with the ways and manners they put their names in documents, stressing that it is a serious thing if a person’s name is misplaced or spelled wrongly.
The court also disagreed with Ibezim that the case was statute-barred, adding that from available records, it was filed 11 days after the cause of action arose and not after 14 days as claimed by Ibezim.
According to the appellate court, the legal action was instituted on September 23, 2020, whereas INEC had received the said forged documents from the APC on September 13, 2020.
“The appeal by the appellant (Ibezim) lacks merit, and it is accordingly dismissed,” Justice Adah said.