A Federal High Court in Abuja has scheduled judgment for December 20 in a suit challenging the validity of the governorship primary held by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Anambra State on June 26, 2021.
The primary produced Andy Uba as the candidate of the APC for the November 6 governorship election, a position one of the party’s governorship aspirants, George Moghalu is challenging in his suit, marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/648/2021.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, after entertaining final submissions from lawyers to parties in the case on Monday, said he would deliver judgment on December 20, but that they would be notified if the judgment becomes ready before then.
Plaintiff’s lawyer, Chris Uche (SAN) said the gravamen of his client’s case was that the primary, which purportedly produced Uba as APC’s candidate for the Anambra governorship election, was not conducted in compliance with the Electoral Act and the APC guidelines for the conduct of primary.
Uche referred to documents, including a report by officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were it was said that the primary did not hold up till 5.30 pm when they left the venue, to support his client’s claim that the APC did not hold a valid primary in Anambra.
He prayed the court to uphold his client’s claim, grant the reliefs sought, including voiding the primary and ordering a fresh one or making the necessary orders as the situation would require.
Lawyer to Uba, Mahmud Magaji (SAN) argued otherwise, insisting that the plaintiff failed to establish that a valid primary was not conducted.
Magaji added that the plaintiff lacked the locus standi (the right to approach the court) to challenge a primary he did not participate in.
He argued that the most the plaintiff could demand is a refund of what he paid to the party in the form of nomination and expression of interest fees.
Magaji urged the court to among others, uphold the objection raised by his client, decline jurisdiction over the suit and dismiss it.
Lawyer to the APC, Vincent Otaokpokpo argued in similar vein and prayed the court to dismiss the suit or convert to te one that will require parties to lead oral evidence by calling witnesses.
INEC, listed as one of the defendants, was not represented at Monday’s proceedings.
It is the plaintiff’s contention that the APC did not comply with the relevant provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 and the party’s regulations and guidelines in the conduct of its governorship primary in Anambra State.
Moghalu wants the court to among others, determine whether a political party that fails to comply with the provisions of the Electoral Act (2010) the party’s constitution and its guidelines, by purporting to conduct a primary election without accreditation of voters, actual voting or casting of votes, collation of votes and announcement of results based on actual votes cast and counted, can validly field a candidate for the election.
He wants the court to declare that, by virtue of the APC’s alleged non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 and the party’s regulations and guidelines in the conduct of its primary in Anambra State, Uba “is not a candidate at the said 6th November 2021 gubernatorial election or at any subsequent postponement.”
The plaintiff equally wants the court to declare that the APC was bound to comply with all the relevant legal provisions in the conduct of its primary election after having demanded and received N22.5million from him and other 13 aspirants.
He is praying the court to among others, declare that having allegedly failed to comply with the relevant applicable laws, the APC has no candidate for the forthcoming governorship election; and to order the party to refund the N22.5million he paid for the expression of interest and nomination forms.
Mohalu also wants the court to grant a perpetual injunction to restrain Uba from holding himself out or parading himself as the candidate of the APC in the said election; and an order of mandatory injunction compelling INEC to delist the APC and Uba from the list of political parties and candidates for the election.