Thursday, 26 January 2023 05:48

Abia PDP governorship candidate is dead. Here’s the legal implication of that for the party

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Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate in Abia State, Uchenna Ikonne, is dead.

Ikonne, a professor and former vice chancellor of the Abia State University Uturu, passed away on Wednesday, 25 January, around 4 a.m. at the National Hospital Abuja, according to a statement from his first son, Uche-Ikonne Chikezie, on behalf of the family.

“I regret to announce the death of my dear father, Eleazar Uchenna Ikonne, who died at the National Hospital Abuja today, 25th January 2023 by 4am after a brief illness.

He was recovering after taking proper treatment in the United Kingdom but relapsed a few days ago leading to multiple cardiac arrests for which he didn’t recover from,” the statement said.

“Further details and arrangements would be made known to the public after deliberations and meetings are made within the family,” the statement added.

Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State earlier this month confirmed that the PDP governorship candidate, Ikonne, was ill and, therefore, was unable to attend political rallies ahead of the forthcoming general elections.

Ikpeazu’s confirmation followed increasing concerns over Ikonne’s absence at rallies and other political events.

A journalist in Abia said that the late PDP gubernatorial candidate had collapsed during a rally and afterwards became indisposed.

In a previous report, Ikpeazu said Ikonne attended some rallies organised by the PDP in Abia, including the 24 November 2022 launch of the party’s state-wide campaign at the Umuahia Township Stadium.

He said Ikonne left the stadium for a gala night, organised in honour of the G-5 governors in his (Ikpeazu) Umuobiakwa country home in Obingwa, “where he managed to give a speech and then he took ill”.

“It is unfortunate that he is lately indisposed, but I want to report some progress and the progress is that Ikonne is recovering gradually and progressively.

“He has left the hospital and is going through convalescence.

“I am sure that he will be strong enough in the future to join,” the governor had said.

Replacing Ikonne

For the late Ikonne to be replaced as the PDP governorship candidate in the state, the party must hold a fresh primary election within the next 14 days, according to Section 33 (1) of the 2022 Electoral Law.

The law says political parties cannot change their candidates except in the event of the death or withdrawal of such candidates.

“…in the case of such withdrawal or death of a candidate, the political party affected shall, within 14 days of the occurrence of the event, hold a fresh primary election to produce and submit a fresh candidate to the commission (INEC) for the election concerned,” the section of the law stated.

This section implies that PDP in Abia State must hold a fresh primary election on or before 8 February to produce Ikonne’s replacement.

A crosscheck indicated that the 2022 Electoral Law was silent on the fate of the deputy governorship candidate, implying that a joint ticket is deemed terminated in the event of a flagbearer’s death.