A five-member screening committee set up by the All Progressive Congress has disqualified a former member of the House of Representatives, Uche Ekwunife, from contesting election into the vacant seat of the Anambra Central Senatorial District.
The party selected Sharon Ikeazor, a former interim woman leader of the party, as its candidate in the election.
The Court of Appeal, sitting in Enugu, had in December declared the seat vacant and ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission to conduct a fresh election within 90 days.
The court quashed the earlier ruling of the National Assembly Election Tribunal that Mrs. Ekwunife had won the seat in the March 28, 2015 senatorial election, which she contested as a member of the Peoples Democratic Party.
The appeal was filed by the candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, Victor Umeh.
Following her loss at the appeal court, Mrs. Ekwunife defected to the APC to contest the rerun since the party’s candidate in the March election, Chris Ngige, had been appointed the minister of labour.
In its report, the five member-committee chaired by Osita Okechukwu, said Mrs. Ekwunife and Mrs. Ikeazor, presented themselves for screening.
It said at the end of the exercise, it chose Mrs. Ikeazor to contest election having “fulfilled Section 4 of 2014 Guidelines for the Nomination of Candidates for Public Office and all relevant sections of the Electoral Act and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
The panel recounted that Mrs. Ikeazor was a member of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party, woman leader of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change and woman leader, interim national executive committee of the All Progressives Congress, as well as a member of its board of trustees.
“Her trajectory shows loyalty, perseverance and consistency to the emergence of our progressive party,” the panel said.
“In conclusion, she is qualified and therefore we recommend her for nomination as the candidate of our great party for Anambra State Central Senatorial District.”
On Mrs. Ekwunife, the committee observed that she was barely two weeks old in the APC.
It noted further, “Most importantly, our deep concern is her record which showed that she dumps political parties at will, leaving the parties in its wake factionalized – from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), to Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA), back to PDP or vice versa and now to APC.
“She is more or less a fair-weather hen therefore her antecedent contravenes Section 4(3) of the 2014 Guideline for Nomination of Candidate for Public Office. Caution is valour.
“The score sheet in respect of the aspirants is also attached herewith for further necessary action. The committee found that Aspirant Senator Uche Lilian Ekwunife, is ineligible to seek the APC nomination for the Senatorial election.”
The committee, whose members include Abdullahi Aliyu, Bunmi Oririowo, Mary Aipoh and Garba Umar (Secretary), said, in carrying out its assignment , it enquired into the profile of aspirants, integrity and fulfillment of all the relevant sections of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2010 Electoral Act and Guideline for Nomination of candidates of our great party, the APC.
It stated, “To aid the committee in its assignment, a score board analysis of the parameters set out above was made. Members scored all aspirants on the following basis viz: BioData/Education- 20 Points; Experience (Public/Private)-20 points; Integrity and Personal Character- 40 points and Party Loyalty and Support-20 Points. The guidelines set a pass mark of 51 Points for the aspirants.”