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Court fixes Nov 30 for Oduah’s 2023 election bid suit

Stella Oduah

A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Thursday, announced November 30 for judgment in a suit filed against Sen. Stella Oduah, seeking an order invalidating her nomination as Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in Anambra.

Oduah is running to retain her position in the National Assembly, which she won and has held since 2015, in the Anambra North Senatorial District for the 2023 election.

Justice Inyang Ekwo set the date after counsels for the applicant and the defense adopted and presented their respective positions on the case.

John Emeka, a PDP candidate in the May 27 primary election that was overseen by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has filed a lawsuit against Oduah, the PDP, and INEC as the first, second, and third defendants, respectively.

Oduah is running for the Anambra North Senatorial District in 2023, and Emeka claimed that she lied under oath on both her expression of interest and nomination forms, including the INEC Form CF001.

Emeka asked the court to rule that the information Oduah provided in her INEC Form CF001 regarding her involvement in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme was fraudulent in the originating summons marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/841/2022 dated and filed on June 8 by his attorney, Mbanefo Ikwegbue.

He claimed that while testifying under oath, the senator utilised the same information to run for office in the PDP’s Anambra North Senatorial District in the 2015 and 2019 general elections.

He claims that the act violates the NYSC Act’s Sections 12(1)(a)(b)(c) and 13(1)(a).

He further requested that the court rule that she was ineligible to have run in the aforementioned elections and/or any other election to the Nigerian Senate as a result of the false information she provided on her INEC Form CF 001 regarding her participation in the NYSC Scheme.

Emeka consequently requested a ruling declaring the senator’s participation in the PDP primary election, which was held on May 27, invalid for the Senate seat representing the 2023 Senatorial District.

He asked for a permanent injunction preventing the party from nominating her to represent it in the upcoming election before INEC.

But in her counter-affidavit dated and filed Sept. 14 by her lawyer, Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, the lawmaker said she knew that Emeka had waived his right to challenge her nomination.

Ikpeazu argued that the plaintiff deposed to an affidavit contained in the party primaries screening brief where he declared “to abide by the decisions of the party as final and not subject it to any litigation whatsoever of adjudication by any other body including the court of Law.”

According to Oduah, by the above declaration, the plaintiff undertook to accept the outcome of the screening, the nomination of the 1st defendant and not to subject the party to any litigation whatsoever.

The senator, who averred that Emeka was no longer a member of the PDP, denied making any false deposition as alleged.

“I duly completed my National Youth Service in accordance with the law, and the original of the documents stated in the affidavit were indeed lost as I stated.

“I have equally up until the institution of this suit, not presented any information to the 3rd defendant (INEC) as the candidate of the 2nd defendant for the forthcoming 2023 election for the senate of Anambra North Senatorial District,” she said.

She, therefore, prayed the court to dismiss the suit.

This is another legal tussle for the former minister, as within the week, the Attorney-General of the Federation Abubakar Malabu had given the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) the go ahead to prosecute Oduah and others over allegation of fraud to the tune of N5 billion.