Barely weeks to the February election, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Imo West Senatorial District candidate, Dr. Jones Onyereri is seeking a judicial review of the Supreme Court’s judgment, which nullified his candidature for the upcoming elections.
Onyereri had defeated member representing Orlu/Orlu/Oru East in the House of Representatives, Jerry Alagboso, and former member, House of Representatives, Nnamdi ThankGod Ezeani, during the party’s primary election held on May 26, 2022 to pick the PDP ticket.
But the two other candidates took him to court, challenging the validity of the primary election and Onyereri’s candidature.
Though the High Court and Appeal Court had earlier ruled in his favour, the Supreme Court recently nullified the primary election on the ground that it was illegal. The apex court ruled that the primary was not held in Imo West, thereby making it a nullity.
Justice Emmanuel Agim, in a judgment on the appeal filed by Ezeani, ruled that the PDP violated Section 87(9) of the Electoral Act by conducting the primary election outside the venue stipulated by law. The court nullified the primary election on the ground that it was conducted in Owerri, the Imo State capital, instead of Orlu being the senatorial headquarters of Imo West.
The court also held that since the time for conduct of primary election to nominate candidates was already over, it is deemed that the Imo PDP would not have a candidate in the February 25 National Assembly poll.
While expressing disappointment with the Supreme Court judgment, which has brought Jones’ campaign to a halt, some of his supporters said he was billed to easily win the election next month. They said intercessions are being made to God on Jones’ behalf for the restoration of his ticket.
Jones contested the same Imo West Senatorial election in 2019 against Rochas Okorocha, losing to the former governor under controversial circumstances, according to some sections of party faithful in the state.
But in a chat with our correspondent, Jones expressed dismay with the apex court’s judgment, stating that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was properly informed about the movement of the PDP primaries from Orlu to Owerri due to widespread insecurity at the time.
He added that the judgment becomes more confounding considering the fact that INEC representatives also witnessed the primary election.
Jones said: “The best thing that could happen to our campaign now is a positive judicial review of this Supreme court judgment since other parties did the same thing without problems.
“Other candidates benefitted from the same arrangement in this same election season. Moreover, the House of Representatives and the House of Assembly primary elections of PDP that were done at the same venue are still intact, with the results standing valid,” he said.
Addressing the crowd of supporters who recently turned out at a reception held for him, Jones appealed for calm and assured them that with God on his side, he would return to the ballot. “We still have till February 25, anything can still happen. I am going for judicial review, and I am sure I will come back on the ballot. In the meantime, I appeal to you all to vote for all other PDP candidates in the upcoming elections,” he stated.