Court of Appeal sacks LP lawmaker in Enugu for failing academic qualifications
The Court of Appeal in Lagos has overturned the election of Hon. Udefuna Chukwudi, representing Ezeagu Constituency in Enugu State House of Assembly, from the Labour Party (LP), due to his inability to meet the constitutional requirements.
The appellate court declared Rt. Hon. Chima Obieze of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the rightful winner of the March 18th election.
Obieze had challenged Udefuna’s victory on the grounds of invalid nomination, non-qualification, and disregard for the 2022 electoral act.
The National and State Houses of Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Enugu state previously upheld LP’s candidate, stating that his election followed the electoral act and he had the minimum requirement to contest for the election.
However, Obieze argued in his appeal that Udefuna was not qualified to contest the election as he did not possess the minimum academic qualification required by the constitution.
According to section 106 (c) of the constitution, candidates must have a secondary school certificate or its equivalent, which includes a Grade II Teacher’s Certificate, City and Guild’s Certificate, education up to secondary school certificate level, Primary Six School Leaving Certificate or its equivalent, and attendance at courses and training in institutions acceptable to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for a minimum of one year. Service in the public or private sector in the federation in any capacity acceptable to the Independent National Electoral Commission for a minimum of 10 years and the ability to read, write, understand, and communicate in the English language to the satisfaction of the Independent National Electoral Commission.
Obieze further argued that a Primary Six School Leaving Certificate alone does not qualify as a secondary school certificate or its equivalent as defined by section 318 (1) of the constitution. Therefore, any person relying on a Primary Six School Leaving Certificate or its equivalent as their qualification must also satisfy all three conditions listed under sub-paragraphs (i), (ii), and (iii) of paragraph (c) of section 318 (1) of the constitution.
Obieze cited a Supreme Court judgment in Lado Anor vs. Masari Ors (2019) LPELR-55596 (SC), which clarified that once a person relying on a Primary Six School Leaving Certificate or its equivalent can demonstrate that they also satisfy the conditions itemized under sub-paragraphs (i), (ii), and (iii) of paragraph (c) of the definition of School Certificate in section 318 (1) of the constitution, they qualify to contest any election in which the prescribed minimum qualification is School Certificate.
The Court of Appeal agreed with Obieze’s arguments and overturned Udefuna’s election, declaring Obieze as the rightful winner of the March 18th election for Ezeagu Constituency in Enugu State House of Assembly.