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Cablegate: Supreme Court Reinstates Soludo

VZCZCXRO0453
PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHOS #0484/01 3521505
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 181505Z DEC 09
FM AMCONSUL LAGOS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1127
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 0685
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH AFB UK
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 LAGOS 000484

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR AF, AF/W, AF/RSA, DRL, AND INR/AA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: NI PGOV PHUM PINR PREL SOCI
SUBJECT: SUPREME COURT REINSTATES SOLUDO

REF: A. A. LAGOS 472
B. B. LAGOS 450
C. C. LAGOS 449 AND PREVIOUS

-------
SUMMARY
--------

1. (SBU) After several legal setbacks, People's Democratic
Party (PDP) candidate, Charles Soludo received Supreme Court
approval December 17 to participate in the February 6, 2010,
gubernatorial election in Anambra State. The PDP is
therefore very much back in the fray, and the potential for
electoral malfeasance is increased. End Summary

--------------------------
PDP BATTLES IN THE COURTS
--------------------------

2. (SBU) Soludo's first legal battle began on October 23
when an Abuja High Court upheld the application of two, rival
PDP gubernatorial aspirants, seeking an interim order to
restrain Soludo from further projecting himself as PDP
gubernatorial candidate on grounds that his selection
violated the party's constitution. The Abuja High Court
later ruled that it lacked the jurisdiction to rule on a
matter of internal party politics and reinstated Soludo
November 16.

3. (SBU) Dissatisfied, the two aspirants took their
grievance to the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal ruled
December 1 that Soludo should suspend his campaign in Anambra
and ordered the Independent National Election Commission
(INEC) to refrain from recognizing him as the PDP
gubernatorial candidate. Soludo launched his campaign
December 3 despite the Court of Appeals' order and
immediately filed an appeal at the Supreme Court, challenging
the Court of Appeals' jurisdiction in this matter. The Court
of Appeal on December 16 ordered Soludo to stand down as a
candidate until the court had finally determined the appeal
filed by the aggrieved, rival PDP gubernatorial aspirants.

--------------------------
SOLUDO BACK IN THE RACE
--------------------------

4. (SBU) The Supreme Court on December 17 unanimously
reversed the order by the Court of Appeal, determining that
the issue of jurisdiction was yet to be resolved and a court
without jurisdiction could not make a valid order.
Furthermore, the Supreme Court noted that the Court of Appeal
went too far when it ordered Soludo to stop presenting
himself as the PDP gubernatorial candidate when the case
filed by the two aggrieved gubernatorial aspirants had not
been determined on its merit. The Supreme Court ordered INEC
to confer on Soludo all the rights and privileges afforded to
other candidates participating in the Anambra gubernatorial
election.

5. (SBU) Civil Society activist Emeka Umuegbalasi hailed
the Supreme Court ruling, describing it as a victory for the
rule of law. Umuegbalasi told PolSpecialist the onus is now
on INEC to conduct a free and fair election and provide a
level playing field for all the candidates. Afam Ilunoh,
leader of a PDP faction that initiated the court case against
Soludo told PolSpecialist that his faction will abide by the
court judgment. He declined to comment on whether his
faction will support Soludo in his bid to win the
gubernatorial election in Anambra State.

6. (SBU) Senate Housing and Urban Development Committee
Chairperson Senator Ikechukwu Obiorah, who described himself
as rival of Soludo for the gubernatorial nomination, told
PolCouns December 12 that he had decided to support Soludo in
the race. Even before Soludo's reinstatement five days
later, he predicted that Soludo would not only win a fair
election in Anambra, but would support poverty alleviation as
among his priorities as governor.

-------
COMMENT
-------

7. (SBU) Despite Soludo's reinstatement, that the PDP, with

LAGOS 00000484 002 OF 002


all its resources and other inherent advantages as the
national ruling party, will be hard pressed overcome the
divisions and bitterness resulting from Soludo's
controversial designation as PDP candidate. In contrast to
Senator Obiorah's views, many PDP followers in Anambra view
Soludo's selection as an unwarranted imposition by party
officials in the national capital. Given the high stakes
involved in a gubernatorial election and INEC's history of
favoring PDP candidates, the prospects for electoral
malfeasance in Anambra have just gone up.

8. (U) ConGen Lagos has coordinated this telegram with
Embassy Abuja.
BLAIR

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