The High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Abuja on Thursday ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to suspend the moves to publish any name as the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the forthcoming governorship election in Anambra State.

In his ruling on an ex parte application filed by one of the aspirants laying claim to the PDP’s ticket, the judge, Yusuf Halilu, directed INEC to maintain the status quo by not publishing any name as the party’s candidate in deference to ongoing proceedings.

“Order that all parties to this suit be put on notice, and I also further order that status quo shall be maintained by INEC by not publishing the name of any candidate as governorship candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice,” the enrolled order of the court read in part.

Valentine Ozibo and Ugochukwu Uba had emerged as the PDP’s governorship candidate from parallel primary elections.

Both are laying claim to the party’s ticket ahead of November 6, 2021 governorship election in Anambra State.

Mr Ozibo, through his lawyer, Ikenna Ukpai, filed an ex parte application on July 14, 2021, seeking court orders that would recognise him as the authentic governorship candidate of the party.

The essence of the the ex parte application he filed was to seek an order that would recognise him as the party’s governorship candidate while pursuing the main suit in the hope that the final judgment would be in his favour.

Court refuses to recognise Ozibo as candidate

In his ruling on Thursday, the judge refused and dismissed the two major prayers sought by Mr Ozibo.

The judge dismissed Mr Ozibo’s prayer for an order to compel INEC to publish his name as PDP’s candidate.

Mr Ozibo, in the application, marked CV/1539/21, also asked for an order of interim injunction restraining PDP from tampering with his name “already submitted” to INEC as its governorship candidate, but the prayer was similarly “refused and dismissed” by the judge.

“An interim order of this honourable court restraining the 1st defendant (PDP) from tampering with the name of the claimant/applicant (Mr Ozibo) already submitted to the 2nd defendant (INEC) as its candidate for the Anambra State governorship election fixed for November 6, 2021, is hereby refused and dismissed.

“An interim order of injunction mandating the 2nd defendant (INEC) to publish the name of the claimant already submitted to it as the candidate of the 1st defendant is hereby refused and dismissed,” the enrolled order signed by the judge read in part.

Accelerated hearing

Rather than granting the orders recognising him as the PDP’s candidate, the court issued an order of accelerated hearing of the suit.

In line with the order of speedy hearing, the judge also abridged the filing time respondents are ordinarily entitled to in the court’s rules.

The judge, therefore, gave the respondents – PDP and INEC – five days from the applicant’s originating processes were filed to “file and serve their counter-affidavit, written addresses and, or preliminary objection to the instant suit.”

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