LEGISREPORTS NG: The Appeal Court judgement which validated the nomination of the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu as the PDP flag bearer for the Enugu West Senatorial District, has been challenged by a member of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Enugu State, Hyde Onuaguluchi, on the grounds that he was wrongfully excluded from the primary election that produced the lawmaker, after having been screened and cleared by the INEC.
He asked the court to determine “whether having failed to conduct a lawful primary election for the Enugu West Senatorial Zone purportedly held on January 11, 2011, the 1st defendant can present any other candidate as substitute other than the plaintiff who won the primary election conducted on January 10, 2011 at Oji River since the 1st defendant failed to conduct any other primary election at 1st defendant’s Enugu West Senatorial District headquarters at Oji River”.
However, the Enugu division of the Court of Appeal in its unanimous judgement upheld the earlier position of a lower court on the matter, saying that the Deputy Senate President remained the validly nominated candidate of the PDP as the matter was not within its jurisdiction.
In the judgement delivered by Justice Abubakar Jega Abdul-Kadir, the court held that “from the facts of the case, two primaries took place and produced two candidates of the 1st respondent for Enugu West Senatorial District and the court is being asked to determine which of the two primaries conferred a right of candidature to represent the political party or to annul the primaries of 11/1/11 won by the 3rd respondent, but which the appellant did not contest”.
Relying on the submissions of Ekweremadu’s counsel, the court said once there arose dispute as to which of the two primaries conferred a right of candidature on the parties to represent the political party in an election, the matter is taken outside the purview of the Electoral Act 2010.
“On the whole therefore, the two issues formulated and argued by the appelant in this appeal are resolved against him. The appeal fails and it is dismissed, the consequence of which is that the order striking out the appellant’s claim by the court is affirmed”, the justices held.
Reacting to the judgement, Onuaguluchi described it as unconstitutional, adding that he was heading straight to the Supreme Court.”
According to him, “The constitution allows us to approach the Supreme Court for final confirmation or modulation before we decide whether or not to rush to teach the law students that it is now law in Nigeria that an express jurisdiction granted by both the Constitution and Statue may be ousted as our courts determine at their pleasure.
“This is because if Nigerian law is that if the National Executive Committee of PDP conducts a primary election, an aspirant who lost could go and conduct his own illegal primary election, return himself, pay corrupt party officials money to forward his name to INEC and our court would lack the jurisdiction to prevent such acts of impunity, then self help and anarchy may soon be the order of the day in Nigeria”.
“The 3rd respondent in the suit is Distinguished Senator Ike Ekweremadu, he is my younger brother and I wish him well always. If the courts say that they lack the jurisdiction and power to inquire into whether the Senatorial primary conducted at Awgu from which his name was forwarded to INEC satisfies the constitution and guidelines of PDP and the Electoral Act, we have no choice than to continue to wish him well and learn from the precedent set by the court for future free for all primaries of survival of the fittest”, he said.
This report was prepared by our Staff reporter