By Ayo Kehinde
Senator Ifeanyi Ararume
Justice Taiwo Taiwo a Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday ruled that Senator Ifeanyi Ararume was the valid candidate for the Imo North Senatorial election held on December 5, 2020.
Justice Taiwo therefore ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue Araraume a certificate of return within 72 hours. INEC had declared APC winner of the election haven polled the highest votes and met the requirements for victory even as though the courts had declared Ararume and Chukwiuma Ibezim, also of the APC, ineligible for the election few days before the conduct of the poll. INEC, which did not return a candidate, hinged its decision on what it described as “several court orders” for and against the two major contenders.
An Appeal Court later voided Ibezim’s candidature on account of certificate forgery.
Araraume, who had engaged Ibezim in legal wars before the election and after, asked the Federal High Court to award him the seat.
Justice Taiwo Taiwo, in a judgment, said Ararume remained the winner of the election going by the earlier judgments of the court.
According to him, with regard to the Appeal Court judgment in Abuja, the 3rd defendant, Chukwuma Ibezim, remained disqualified.
Justice Taiwo therefore declared Ararume as the APC valid candidate in the poll.
The judge earlier in a ruling dismissed Ibezim’s application seeking a stay of the judgment, pending the hearing and determination of the suit before the Supreme Court.
Justice Taiwo, who described the application as “an attempt to arrest the judgment,” dismissed it for lacking in merit.
The Court of Appeal faulted the judgment of the Federal High Court, Owerri, which had nullified the candidacy of Ibezim and declared him candidate while sacking Araraume barely 24 hours to the election.
The Federal High Court, Abuja, had on the other hand declared Araraume as candidate of the party, on the grounds that Ibezim presented fake certificates to the APC and INEC.
But Araraume, through his counsel, Ahmed Raji, SAN, said he had also filed an application at the Supreme Court, praying that the execution of the Appeal Court judgement be stayed.
The former lawmaker approached Justice Taiwo’s court for an order compelling INEC to issue him the certificate of return as the winner of the poll.