The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, on Saturday, upheld the disqualification of Sir Chuwuma Ibezim as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Senatorial by-election that held in Imo North on December 5, 2020.
The appellate court, in a unanimous decision by a three-man panel of Justices, affirmed the judgement of the Federal High Court in Abuja which ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to remove Ibezim’s name from the list of candidates for the by-election, after it found him guilty of submitting falsified documents.
The high court judgement followed a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1229/2020, which was filed against Ibezim by Asomugha Elebeke.
Justice Inyang Ekwo had in a judgment delivered on December 4, 2020 sacked Ibezim as candidate of the APC for the December 5 by-election in Imo North Senatorial District.
Ekwo had disqualified Ibezim from contesting the election on the grounds that he made false statements/declarations in the affidavit and documents he submitted to his party, the All Progressives Congress and INEC.
The false information was in respect of his West African Examination Council certificate wherein the judge held that the names on the documents were not only different but irreconcilable and accordingly ordered his disqualification from the by-elction.
Ibezim then approached the appellate court to set aside his disqualification.
However, delivering judgment in the appeal on Saturday, Justice Stephen Adah who read the unanimous judgment of the Court of Appeal held the judgment of the trial court cannot be faulted since it was evident that the appellant submitted false information to APC and INEC.
Justice Adah stated that no other person other than the institution that awarded the certificate can lawfully effect correction on them.
He advised that candidates must be diligent with the way they put their names in documents, stressing that it is a serious thing if a person’s name was misplaced or spelt wrongly.
The court also disagreed with Ibezim that the case was statute barred, “ because from available regards, it was filed 11 days after the cause of action.”
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 lacks merit and it is accordingly dismissed,” Justice Adah ruled.