The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, attempted to throw the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) off balance, when it filed a suit before a Federal High Court in Abuja seeking the sack of all National Working Committee (NWC) members of APC.
The Abdullahi Adamu-led NWC took over the affairs of APC after the party’s national convention in March this year.
In a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1864/2022, and filed through Ayo Kamaldeen Ajibade, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), PDP is contesting the legality of the process that produced the party’s national officers.
The fresh suit is predicated on a recent judgment of a Federal High Court, which nullified the nomination of Osun State governor, Gboyega Oyetola and his deputy, Benedict Alabi, as APC candidates in the July governorship election.
The presiding judge, Emeka Nwite, who delivered the ruling on September 30, in a suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/468/2022 held that the nomination of Oyetola and his deputy was unlawful.
The court based its judgment on the grounds that Yobe State governor, Mai Mala Buni, who submitted their names to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), violated the provisions of Section 183 of the Constitution and Section 82(3) of the Electoral Act, 2022.
Buni was then the acting chairman of the APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC).
Consequently, the PDP is praying the court to void the APC NWC as well as all candidates produced by the party for the 2023 general elections on the claim that they were produced in breach of the 1999 Constitution, the party’s Constitution and Electoral Act 2022.
The case file has been assigned to Inyang Ekwo, a federal high court judge. Ekwo has fixed November 22 for mention of the suit with an order that all the 53 persons listed by PDP as defendants be served with hearing notices in their respective locations.
APC presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; the party’s vice-presidential candidate, Kashim Shettima, as well as governorship candidates, their running mates, Senatorial and House of Representatives candidates were listed as defendants in the suit.
Also, the Federal High Court of Nigeria has constituted a special task force of judges to swiftly hear and determine all pre-election cases before it.
Chief Judge of the Federal Court, Justice John Terhemba Tsoho, who constituted the task force, said it became necessary to designate a team of judges following the large volume of pre-election suits that have flooded the court.
In a statement yesterday by the Assistant Director, Information of the Federal High Court, Catherine Oby Christopher, a circular issued by the Chief Judge said the judges who are members of the task force will suspend all regular cases in their respective courts, due to the urgency of the electoral cases, which are time-bound.
The statement said: “In view of the large volume of pre-election cases filed so far, with the imminent attendant risk of lapsing, it has become necessary to constitute a task force to speedily dispose of the matters, particularly in those judicial divisions with a glut of them.”
Tsoho further stated that the judges would have four weeks to dispose of the pre-election cases.
Reacting to PDP’s demand for sack of Adamu-NWC, a Lagos-based lawyer, Abdullah Olawale Wahab, said the suit is a class suit on its own and PDP has the right to approach the court.
“The suit is sui generis in nature. It is a class suit on its own. The court will also examine it in that manner. As it is, it may be prejudice of the court and prejudice of the case for it to be an object of debate, to start discussing the merit and demerit of it.
“However, PDP has the right to approach the court over the outcome of the action and inaction by APC, especially as it related to the election of the party’s executive council, will have on them.
“The court is also bound to examine in detail the intention of the plaintiffs in instituting the case and considering the principles of jurisprudence in law in dealing with such case at hand.
“In effect, the court will consider what will be the outcome of the case, the effect of the case in socio-political situation or its effect on the country at the end of the day.”
For Kunle Adegoke (SAN), “PDP has no locus standi to challenge the internal affairs of APC. There is no decision of Supreme Court that has nullified Buni’s erstwhile leadership.
“All PDP is doing is mere exhibition of desperation to return to power by all means, whether fair or foul. Section 285(14) of the Constitution is not an unbridled license for any political party to challenge internal affairs of another political party.”
MEANWHILE, barely one month after Adamawa State chapter of APC, sacked its chairman, Ibrahim Bilal, over allegations of massive fraud, the party is enveloped in another crisis over Tinubu’s campaign list.
In a press statement issued yesterday in Yola, which was signed by the acting chairman, Mr. Samaila Tadawus, and read by the publicity secretary, Abdullahi Mohammed, he accused the state coordinator for Tinubu’s campaign, Senator Aishatu Binanni of fabricating a list of members without the consent of party stakeholders.
Part of the statement reads: “The said list emanated from Senator Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed (Binanni) as Adamawa State coordinator, who singlehandedly generated the list without consulting the party at both state and local governments level for necessary inputs and final approval.
“On enquiry by the party, it was also confirmed that our members of the National Assembly, state Assembly candidates and critical stakeholders were not consulted either.
“It will be recalled that the national presidential campaign council contacted the party at the national level for necessary inputs and final approval before the campaign secretariat released the list.”
The statement stated that the national campaign secretariat did not confer any right on any state coordinator to bypass the party leadership and act unilaterally.
“In view of the above, the party hereby rejects the list in circulation and urge party members and the general public to disregard same,” he stated.
The statement further added that the party stakeholders will meet tomorrow (Friday) for proper consultations and a comprehensive list of Tinubu’s presidential campaign in the state will be released.