The Independent National Electoral Commission has said that 14 political parties have been cleared to contest the December 5 by-election to fill the vacant position of Imo North senatorial seat.
The position became vacant following the death of Senator Ben Uwajumogu last year.
Prominent among those whose names were released in a statement signed by INEC Secretary, Rose Oriaran-Anthony, was Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Araraume replaced Frank Ibezim, who was said to have won the October 3 primary election of the party. This has led to rest all speculations over who will fly APC’s flag in the by-election.
But an Imo High court overturned his victory and awarded it to Araraume. A Federal High Court sitting in Owerri on Friday, declared Araraume, candidate of the APC for Imo North senatorial election.
The court, in suit no FHC/OW/101/2020, nullified the election of Frank Ibezim, on the grounds that he was disqualified by the party’s screening committee before the primary election.
The Court stated that in the eyes of the law that Ibezim should not have participated in the primary in the first place.
Also to contest the election are Emmanuel Okewulonu of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP), Patrick Ndubueze Chiwuma of Accord Party, Emmanuel Ogueri of Action Alliance (AA), Nathaniel Chukwudi Uba, African Action Congress (AAC), Charles Onyirimba of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA); Raphael Nnadozie Mbachu, Allied Peoples Movement (APM) and Ernest Ndidi Ezirim, All People’s Party (APP).
Others are Okorondu Nwachukwu Sunday, Labour Party (LP); Okeafor Augustine Chukwujieze, New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Charles Okechukwu Amajuoyi National Rescue Movement, (NRM), Rita Ada Ibemere, Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Promise Anurika Nwadigos of the Young Progressives Party (YPP).
Meanwhile the electoral body has expressed its readiness to conduct the December 5 by-election in Imo North.
Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Imo State, Prof. Francis Ezeonu, told journalists in Owerri, the election which was earlier scheduled for the 31st of October 2020 had to be postponed due to the uncertainties of the #EndSARS protests.
He said that the protesters burnt one of their offices in the zone specifically at Ehime Mbano, stressing however that the commission has provided all the materials required for the election.
He added that the council chairman has also provided a temporarily office space for the use of the commission during the election.
Ezeonu, said more than 300 staff who have been trained would be deployed to conduct the election in 710 spread across the six local government areas of Imo North senatorial district. They are Isiala Mbano, Ehime Mbano, Onuimo, Okigwe, Ihitte Uboma and Obowo
He said the by-election would be conducted in strict compliance to COVID-19 protocols noting that pharmaceutical materials like hand sanitizers and methylated spirit have been procured for use at the voting centres. Every machine, he said, will be cleaned after each voter to avoid spread of the dreaded disease.
He reiterated the fact that no voter will be allowed into the polling booth with camera or phone device to prevent vote-buying.
Meanwhile Araraume has promised effective and fair representation if elected.
Araraume made the promise while addressing the people of Ihitte- Uboma and Isiala Mbano local government areas of Imo State, during rallies held at the areas on Tuesday and Wednesday.
He remarked that he has the experience, capacity and strength to attract projects, adding that he will build roads to link Ihitte- Uboma from Mbano to Obowo, Umuahia and other environs with a view to encouraging economic activities, productivity and free movement.
Araraume said he will positively engage the youths and women of Okigwe zone in skills acquisition and beneficial schemes to make them self reliant in order to reduce poverty and insecurity at the zone, insisting that before the end of 2020, he would have started the empowerment programme.