Hon. Valentine Ayika, member representing Anaocha/Dunukofia/Njikoka Federal Constituency in Anambra has told the Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Awka that he was duly nominated by the Peoples Democratic Party as its candidate for February 23 elections.
Ayika made the submission when he testified as principal witness at the closing of the petition against him on Monday.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Dozie Nwankwo, candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance is challenging the victory of Ayika on the grounds that PDP had no candidate in the election.
Nwankwo in petition marked EPT/AN/HR/07/2019 with Independent National Electoral Commission and Peoples Democratic Party as co-defendants is praying the tribunal to declare him winner alleging that Ayika was not a candidate in the election.
Ayika, who was led in evidence by his counsel, Ikechukwu Ezechukwu (SAN), said he bought expression of interest form, nomination form, contested the PDP primary election and scored 252 votes to emerge flag bearer.
He said his party submitted his name alongside all other candidates who won primary election Anambra on October 18.
Ayika tendered documents, including the result of PDP primary election, letter of PDP instructing Independent National Electoral Commission to recognise him as its candidate and report of PDP primary election panel among others.
The House of Reps member told the tribunal that though there was petition against his nomination by Dr Richard Egenti, a PDP aspirant but that Supreme Court had ruled on February 11 that the petitioner was not the candidate PDP.
He said Egenti had sued PDP and INEC claiming that he won the primary.
Ayika tendered a letter from the national headquarters of PDP which directed INEC to recognise him as its candidate and wondered why his name was not included in INEC list used for the election.
He said PDP wrote the letter on January 21, five days after the deadline for submission names which elapsed on January 17.
The principal witness said he started campaign after the Supreme Court ruling up to February 14 before continuing after the election was postponed and ended on February 21.
Counsel to Nwankwo, J.O. Olatoke (SAN), argued that neither Ayika of the PDP filed an action against the non-inclusion of Ayika’s name in the final list used for the election.
Olatoke further pointed out that Ayika was not mentioned in the Supreme Court judgement which the witness said his name could not have been mentioned because he was not a party in the suit.
The petitioner’s counsel told journalists after the session that PDP did not contest the election as it had no candidate as at the time of the election.
He said: “In the final list of candidates, PDP has no candidate that is why INEC put ‘Court Order’ in the column for PDP.”
But Ezechukwu, counsel to Ayika, said only political parties had the prerogative to say who its candidate is for any election which it had rightly done and defended in the tribunal.
He said the APGA had non locus to tell PDP who its candidate should be as it was internal to it.
NAN reports that three other witnesses testified for Ayika during the session.
Justice Esther Haruna, Chairman of the tribunal ruled that the defendants should file their final written addresses on or before July 25, while the petitioner should respond on or before August 1.
Haruna adjourned the case until August 3 for adoption of written addresses.