18 December 2018

Nigeria: Niger - Court Declines to Stop INEC From Recognising APC's Senatorial Candidate

Abuja — The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court has declined to issue an interlocutory injunction to restrain the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, from recognising a Senatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Niger State, David Umar.

However, the court, in a ruling that was delivered by Justice Folashade Ogunbanjo on Tuesday, okayed accelerated hearing of the substantive suit challenging the powers of the APC to allegedly handpick Umar to replace one Mohammed Musa as its candidate in Niger East Senatorial District.

Justice Ogunbanjo directed all the parties to file and exchange relevant processes before January 9 to enable the court to determine the matter expeditiously.

Cited as 1st to 3rd Defendants in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1210/2018, were APC, INEC and Umar.

The Plaintiff, Musa, told the court that he was the declared winner of a primary election the APC conducted in the Senatorial District on October 2, an exercise he said was duly monitored by INEC.

He argued that under section 87(4) (c) (II) of the Electoral Act, the 1st Defendant (APC), is mandated to forward his name as its candidate for the 2019 Senatorial election in Niger East.

"Instead of forwarding the name of the applicant to the 2nd respondent as the candidate of the 1st respondent as mandated by the law, 1st Defendant has purportedly forwarded the name of the 3rd Defendant to the 2nd Defendant.

"The Applicant, apart from securing the highest number of votes at the primary election of the 1st Defendant on 2nd October, 2018, by a very wide margin, is also the popular candidate accepted by the electorate of the Niger East Senatorial District", Musa stated in the suit he filed through his team of lawyers led by Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN.

Among other reliefs, the Plaintiff, is praying the court to determine whether "considering the combine provisions of sections 221,222, paragraph 15(c) of the Third Schedule, as well as other relevant provisions to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended); Articles 7(viii) (ix), and 20 of the Constitution of the APC; and Paragraph II of the 2014 Guidelines for the Nomination of Candidates for Public Offices of the APC, whether the 1st Defendant can or has the right or latitude to nominate or sponsor any candidate, or forward to the 2nd Defendant, the name of any candidate for election to the National Assembly (Senate), other than as mandatorily provided by the combined effect of the afore-stated provisions of the Constitution, the Electoral Act, the constitution and guidelines of the 1st Defendant.

"Whether the 1st Defendant can or has the power to substitute or change the name of the Plaintiff, who in conformity with the afore-stated provisions of the relevant laws and Guidelines, secured the highest number of votes at the primary election conducted by the 1st Defendant on 2nd October, 2018, to nominate a candidate for the office of Senator representing Niger East Senatorial District, with that of the 3rd Defendant, who did not score the highest number of votes at the said primary election".

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He further wants, "A declaration that the 1st Defendant lacks the power and the vires to nominate, sponsor or forward to the 2nd Defendant, the name of any candidate for election in the platform of the 1st Defendant to the office of the Senator representing Niger East Senatorial District, at the 2019 general elections, other than as mandatorily provided by the relevant provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), as well as the Constitution and Guidelines of the 1st Defendant.

"A declaration that the 1st Defendant does not possess the vires, power or authority to forward to the 2nd defendant, any other name (particularly, that of the 3rd Defendant) than the name of the Plaintiff who secured the highest number of votes in the primary election organised by the 1st Defendant, and supervised by the 2nd Defendant on 2nd October, 2018, to contest on the platform of the 1st Defendant for the office of Senator representing Niger East Senatorial District, at the general elections scheduled for 2019.

"A declaration that the Plaintiff, having secured the highest number of votes at the primary election conducted by the 1st Defendant, and monitored by the 2nd Defendant on 2nd October, 2018, to nominate a candidate to represent the 1st Defendant for the office of Senator representing Niger East Senatorial District, at the general elections scheduled for 2019.

"A declaration that the submission by the 1st Defendant to the 2nd defendant, of the name of the 3rd Defendant, to contest election in the platform of the 1st defendant to the office of Senator representing Niger East Senatorial District, at the general elections slated for 2019, is unconstitutional, illegal, ultra vires, oppressive, undemocratic, arbitrary, null and void, and of no effect.

"An order setting aside the nomination and/or submission by the 1st Defendant, to the 2nd Defendant, of the name of the 3rd Defendant as the candidate to represent the 1st Defendant for the office of Senator representing Niger East Senatorial District at the general elections slated for 2019.

"An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 2nd Defendant, whether by itself, National Chairman, officers, agents, privies or through any person or persons howsoever, from excluding or further excluding, withholding or further withholding the name of the Plaintiff as the candidate representing the 1st Defendant for the office of the Senator representing Niger East Senatorial District at the general elections slated for 2019".

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As well as to, "restrain the 3rd Defendant, whether by himself or through his officers, agents, privies or any person or persons howsoever, from parading or further parading, presenting or further presenting, holding himself out, or further holding himself out as the candidate representing the 1st Defendant for the office of Senator representing Niger East Senatorial District at the general elections slated for 2019".

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