A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Friday, dismissed a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) suit seeking the disqualification of Rev. Father Hyacint Alia as All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate in Benue.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a judgment, held that the PDP’s suit was incompetent on the ground of lack of locus standi (legal right) to institute the case.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that two plaintiffs; the PDP and Rt. Hon. Titus Uba had sued the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and APC as 1st and 2nd defendants.
Also joined in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1556/2022 were Rev. Father Alia, Mr Isaac Vembe and Mr Samuel Ode as 3rd to 5th defendants respectively.
The plaintiffs accused the APC of substituting the deputy governorship candidate of the party, Mr Vembe (4th defendant) with Mr Ode (5th defendant) without any written communication by the party to INEC to convey Vembe’s withdrawal in accordance with the provisions of Section 31 of the Electoral Act, 2022.
They said the act also contravened sections 187 (1) and 285 (14) (c) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and INEC’s relevant timetable, regulations and guidelines.
The plaintiffs, who sought five reliefs, prayed for an order directing the electoral umpire not to recognise Alia as APC governorship candidate in the March 11 Benue poll.
They argued that Alia can neither nominate concurrently two deputy governorship candidates for the election nor was he competent to contest without any deputy governorship candidate since the time for doing so had elapsed.
Delivering the judgment, Justice Ekwo held that the provision of Section 285 (14) (c) of the 1999 Constitution which the plaintiffs relied on as giving them the locus stand in the case was taken out of context.
According to him, there is no word or phrase therein that gives any political party like the 1st plaintiff (PDP) or the 2nd plaintiff (Uba), as an individual, locus stand to challenge the activity or candidate of another political party.
The judge agreed with the 2nd, 3rd and 5th defendants that the subject matter of the suit was exclusively an internal affair of the APC.
“It is quite obvious that the provision of Section 29 (5) of the Electoral Act, 2022 which the plaintiffs sought refuge, has made it so.
“By giving locus standi only to ‘an aspirant’ who participated in the primaries of his political party to file a suit,” he said.
The judge, who also dismissed the suit for being an abuse of court process, agreed with the 2nd, 3rd and 5th defendants that similar suit had been brought before by the PDP against INEC, APC and others where it challenged the substitution of the APC vice-presidential candidate in suit number: FHC/ABJ/CS/1016/2022 which was determined on Sept 19, 2022.
“The judgment is subsisting, valid, unchallenged and binding,” Justice Ekwo said. (NAN)