Court fixes date for judgment on legality of Akwa Ibom PDP primary

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A Federal High Court, Abuja, has fixed July 15 to deliver judgment in a suit filed by some aggrieved Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members in Akwa Ibom State against the party over the conduct of the state’s primary elections.

The plaintiffs, Friday Iwok and 31 others, said the primary was conducted in violation of the PDP guidelines.

Justice Obiora Egwuatu fixed the date on Tuesday after counsel for the parties in the suit adopted all their processes and presented their positions for and against the suit.

The plaintiffs had sued the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the PDP and the elected ad-hoc delegates who emerged from the ward congresses conducted by the party.

They want the court to declare the outcome of the ward congress of the party in Akwa Ibom a nullity.

The development followed the PDP’s ward congress organised on April 30 to elect three ad-hoc delegates that would vote in the party primaries.

The applicants asked the court to set aside the results of the ward congress.

They alleged that no election was conducted to choose the ad-hoc delegates in the state.

The judge, on May 18, made an order directing parties to maintain the status quo pending the hearing and determination of the matter.

But despite the order, the PDP conducted its primaries using the delegates.

The PDP conducted the primaries to elect its candidates for the 2022 State Assembly, National Assembly and the governorship elections.

NAN reported that the applicants had, on May 15, accused the PDP of flouting the order of the court in going ahead with the primary elections in the state despite the court order.

The aggrieved PDP members, through their lawyer, Ahmed Raji, told Justice Egwuatu that his order made on May 18 was disregarded by the defendants.

Mr Raji, therefore, prayed the court to set aside the primary elections, conducted on May 22, having failed to obey the court order which directed parties to maintain a status quo ante bellum.

Upon resumed hearing on Tuesday, lawyer to the PDP, Paul Usoro, and counsel for the 3rd to 131st defendant, Uwemedimo Nwoko, disagreed with Mr Raji’s submission.

They argued that having challenged the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter, any order made by the court would amount to an exercise in futility.

According to Mr Usoro, the PDP filed a preliminary objection on May 24.

 

 

He argued that the plaintiffs lacked a locus standi to institute the suit having not participated in the exercise, citing a previous Supreme Court ruling to back his argument.

Mr Nwoko corroborated Mr Usoro’s submission, urging the court to dismiss the suit for being incompetent.

“The plaintiffs did not buy forms, and they declared intent to be elected as delegates.

“Having not bought any form and showed any interest, we submit that these plaintiffs lack locus to come before this court to institute the suit,” he said.

Mr Nwoko also argued that the mode of commencing the suit was defective.

“This suit is too hostile and contentious to be taken on the basis of the originating summons. Therefore, it is incompetent,” he said.

The lawyer said the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the suit.

The counsel to INEC, Abdulaziz Sani, declared his neutrality in the matter.

Justice Egwuatu adjourned the matter till July 15 for judgment.

(NAN)

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