Cross River State Governor, Prof Ben Ayade, has scored yet another victory in another suit instituted against him by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Senator Jarigbe A. Jarigbe, as Justice A.R Mohammed of the Federal High Court, Abuja struck out the suit on January 12, 2023.
In the suit, PDP and Jarigbe challenged the candidature of Ayade to contest the election into the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to represent Cross River North Senatorial District in the 2023 General elections.
Justice Mohammed, in the judgment delivered in favour of Ayade (3rd Defendant in the suit) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) (2nd Defendant in the suit), dismissed the Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/1248/2022, instituted by the PDP and Jarigbe, who had claimed that the APC made Governor Ayade the Senatorial Candidate through an illegal election.
Ayade had, through his counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, argued that the PDP and Senator Jarigbe A. Jarigbe, as plaintiffs had no locus standi to institute the action, as they were neither members of the APC nor aspirants in the election conducted on 14th July 2022, by the APC as prescribed by the Nigerian Constitution and the Electoral Act, 2022.
The Plaintiffs had through an Originating Summons filed on 27th July 2022, approached the Federal High Court, Abuja, praying amongst others, for “AN ORDER of perpetual injunction restraining the 1st Defendant (INEC) their agents, servants, affiliates or privies from recognizing and dealing with the 2nd and 3rd Defendants, or any other person, as the 2nd Defendant’s candidate for the Cross River North Senatorial District election in the forthcoming National Assembly elections.
Also joined as Co-defendants with Ayade in the suit challenging the APC primaries were INEC, APC, Martin Ovim (who had earlier won the May 28, 2022 Senatorial primaries, but had resigned to enable a fresh primary be conducted by INEC.
TheNewsGuru.com (TNG) reports that it was from these fresh primaries that Ayade emerged as the sole contestant and winner on 14th July 2022.
Cecilia Adams, the 5th Defendant, had earlier instituted a similar suit against Governor Ayade, but had lost same at the Federal High Court, before Justice Nkeonye Evelyn Maha, on a similar ground that she lacked locus standi to have instituted that suit against Governor Ayade, having not participated in the APC primaries of 14th July 2022, from which Governor Ayade duly emerged as the APC candidate for the Cross River North Senatorial District.
The court had held that Mrs Adams failed to establish or prove that Ayade was not properly nominated by his party; or that any of the provisions of the 1999 Constitution, the Electoral Act, INEC Guidelines, or the Constitution of APC, had in any way been breached by the APC or Ayade in his emergence as the APC Senatorial candidate.
Justice A.R Mohammed, in his judgment while dismissing the Suit, aligned himself with the submissions of Chief Ozekhome, SAN, in his Preliminary Objection which wrecked in totality the case of the PDP and Senator Jarigbe A. Jarigbe. He held that the Plaintiffs did not have any locus standi to approach the court as nothing in section 285(14)(c) of the Constitution permitted the Plaintiffs to bring such a case.
The section above-made use of the word “its candidate”, not “any candidate”, and thus, was referring to the political party itself which was dissatisfied with the candidate it produced; and not any other political party dissatisfied with such party’s candidate.
The Court stated that it was robbed of the jurisdiction to entertain the matter, the Plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate that not only were they members of the APC, but that they were also aspirants who had contested in the primaries being challenged.
The court further held that the Plaintiffs by their own Originating Summons had already confirmed that they were neither members of the APC nor did they participate in the election; thus making them total strangers to the APC’s politics.
Justice A.R Mohammed finally held that the Plaintiffs lacked the locus standi to institute this matter and this, stripped the court of jurisdiction to hear same. It follows therefore that the court could not hear any of the other issues for determination that had been raised by the Plaintiffs.