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Litigations dog primaries as INEC releases final list today

Ahead of today’s publication of the final list of nominated governorship candidates by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), reports from states indicated that multiple…

Ahead of today’s publication of the final list of nominated governorship candidates by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), reports from states indicated that multiple litigations are trailing primaries of the major political parties. 

The electoral body had slated today for the publication of the final list of nominated candidates for governorship and state houses of assembly in line with section 32 (1) of the Electoral Act 2022, which stipulates that the list of candidates be published at least 150 days before the election. 

Daily Trust reports that the governorship and state houses of assembly elections would be held on March 11, 2023, according to the timetable and schedule of activities for the 2023 general elections released by INEC. 

The governorship elections would be held in 28 states. Eight states including; Anambra, Bayelsa, Edo, Ekiti, Imo, Kogi, Ondo and Osun states had been previously pushed out of the general elections circle following litigations. 

Reports from our correspondents showed that four months after the governorship primaries were held, litigations trailing the exercises are yet to be concluded. 

APC battles litigations in Abia, Adamawa, Benue, Kaduna, Plateau, others

Litigations are trailing the governorship primaries of the APC in Abia, Adamawa, Benue, Kaduna, Jigawa, and Plateau, among other states.

In Kaduna State, the APC, gubernatorial candidate, Sen. Uba Sani is not totally free to enjoy his party’s mandate, as litigation hangs on the primary elections that earned him the governorship ticket. 

One of the major contenders for the governorship election, Alhaji Sani Sha’aban has sought legal action at the Federal High Court in Kaduna with case number FHC/KD/CS/79/2022 against the APC as the first defendant, Senator Uba Sani as the second defendant and INEC as the third defendant. Daily Trust reports that the court is expected to resume hearing on the case next week Wednesday.    

Like in Kaduna, a chieftain of the APC in Jigawa State, an aspirant for the party’s governorship ticket, Farouk Adamu Aliyu is challenging the outcome of the primary election that produced the state’s deputy governor, Umar Namadi as the party’s gubernatorial flag bearer. 

Although a federal high court in Dutse dismissed Aliyu’s suit for lacking in merit, the former federal lawmaker has filed an appeal to overturn the ruling. 

In Benue State, lawsuits are trailing the emergence of Reverend Father Hyacinth Alia as the APC candidate. He is confronted with both internal and external forces against his candidature.  

For instance, Justice Abdu Dogo of the Federal High Court in Makurdi recently adjourned the matter brought against Alia and INEC by 39 members of the APC as well as 15 other governorship aspirants of the party. 

Daily Trust reports that the emergence of Senator Aishatu Ahmed Binani as the APC candidate for Adamawa State is being challenged by a former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nuhu Ribadu. He had filed a suit at a federal high court in Yola, calling for the cancellation of the election over alleged over voting. 

In Plateau State, there’s a lawsuit trailing the emergence of Nentawe Yilwatda Goshwe as the APC candidate. Dr Danyaro Sarpiyan, an APC governorship aspirant has challenged the nomination of Goshwe on the ground of irregularities during the party governorship primary, at the Federal High Court and asked the court to nullify the exercise.  

Reports from Abia State showed that APC candidate, High Chief Ikechi Emenike, is being challenged by the immediate past Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Dr Uchechukwu Samson Ogah.

 

Lawsuits dog PDP primaries in Abia, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Ogun, Kano, Niger

At least, the PDP is battling with lawsuits in Abia, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Ogun, Kano and Niger states over its governorship primaries, reports revealed.

In Kano, the parallel gubernatorial primaries of the PDP have spiralled into an ongoing litigation. Mohammed Abacha who was declared winner in the primaries conducted by the former state executive committee had approached a Federal High Court in Kano to challenge the recognition of Sadiq Muhammad Wali as the gubernatorial candidate of the party by the electoral umpire. 

The case, which is before Justice Abubakar Muhammad Liman, has been slated for hearing on October 14 with Abacha praying the court to declare him the winner of the primaries and restrain INEC from further recognising Wali as the gubernatorial candidate of the PDP for Kano State.

In Niger State, some aspirants of the PDP are challenging the qualifications of the winner, Alhaji Isah Liman Kantigi at the Federal High Court, Abuja. 

Daily Trust gathered that the complainants led by Sani Idris Kutigi who came second in the primaries had filed a suit alleging that the winner of the primaries did not indicate his disability in the nomination forms submitted to the INEC. The case comes up on October 12. 

The nomination of the governorship candidate of the PDP in Akwa Ibom State, Pastor Umo Eno is being challenged by an aggrieved aspirant, Akan Okon. 

The case presided over by Justice Agatha Okeke, was adjourned to Friday, October 14 for the adoption of final written addresses.

At least four suits had been filed against the Ogun State governorship candidate of the PDP, Ladi Adebutu.

Two of the suits were filed by former aspirants – Segun Showunmi and Jimi Lawal, while three PDP members – Taiwo Olabode Idris, Kehinde Akala and Alhaji Ayinde Monsuri, also filed another suit challenging the delegates’ list used in the conduct of the party primaries.

Last Tuesday, a Federal High court sitting in Abeokuta, decided the case filed by the trio and nullified all the primaries conducted by the PDP in the state.

The court also barred INEC from recognising Hon. Adebutu as the governorship candidate of the party in the state.

Delivering his ruling, Justice OO Oguntoyinbo ordered fresh primaries for all the positions within 14 days.

However, our correspondent gathered that the Adebutu group had filed an appeal against the Federal Court judgment.

The fourth suit against the PDP candidate was filed by the ruling APC.

The ruling party had approached a Federal High Court sitting in Abeokuta, seeking the disqualification of Adebutu and his running mate, Adekunle Akinlade, over alleged breach of the electoral act.

In Delta State, Olorogun David Edevbie, the former Principal Secretary to late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua had approached the Supreme Court to challenge the August 2022 judgment of the Court of Appeal, Abuja, which overturned the judgement of the High Court that removed Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori as the PDP governorship candidate in Delta State.

The Court of Appeal had reinstated the Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Oborevwori as the PDP governorship candidate in the forthcoming election after a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja had declared Edevbie as the candidate.

Meanwhile, the PDP in the state has dragged the governorship candidate of the APC and Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege as well as 42 other candidates of the party to court for allegedly violating the 2022 Electoral Act.

In Abia, the delegates list that produced the PDP candidate, Prof Uche Ikonne is being disputed in court. 

 

LP, ADP too

In Lagos, there is tension in the Labour Party (LP) over the party’s governorship ticket.

The most contentious is the governorship ticket of the party being claimed by the ‘suspended state chairman’ of the party, Mr. Ifagbemi Awamaridi and Mr. Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, who is recognised by the party’s national leadership.

Daily Trust reports that Awamaridi who also insists that he remains the chairman had sued the leadership of LP and Rhodes-Vivour, praying against any move to substitute him.

This followed the substitution primary conducted by the party in August where Rhodes-Vivour was elected.

Awamaridi had kicked against the fresh primary, saying he was never a placeholder for the party in the state and that he remains the authentic candidate whose name has been submitted to INEC.

He however filed a suit before the Federal High Court in Lagos challenging the move to substitute his name with that of Rhodes-Vivour. In the suit where INEC was also joined as a defendant, the court was urged to prevail on the electoral body not to recognise any other candidate apart from him (Awamaridi).

At the court hearing yesterday attended by the two parties, the court was urged to give accelerated hearing to the suit. With the pending court case, it is not clear who INEC would recognise as the authentic governorship candidate of the party in Lagos state.

In Plateau State, there’s a lawsuit hanging on the LP’s candidate, Dr. Patrick Dakum. Yohana Margif, who was earlier nominated as the governorship candidate of LP, sued the party at the Federal High Court on the submission that he personally wrote to withdraw his candidature, for Dr. Dakum to pick the governorship ticket in the state, a development that he said was not true. 

Similarly, the Action Democratic Party (ADP) is also embroiled in a litigation over its governorship candidate in Kano State. Recall that Nasiru Koguna, the party’s erstwhile governorship candidate is challenging the process of his replacement with a federal lawmaker, Sha’aban Sharada, who left the APC after losing the primaries. 

Koguna was initially elected as the governorship candidate of the party in the state before he purportedly withdrew for Sha’aban after it was reported that both of them had reached a gentleman agreement but the implementation of the agreement had thrown a spanner in the wheel of the agreement. 

 

Nigeria’s democracy is court dependent – Dr Kari 

Commenting, an associate Professor of Political Sociology, University of Abuja, Dr Abubakar Umar Kari, recalled how an analyst  in 2007, described Nigeria as a court-dependent democracy, where outcomes of polls are often decided in the courtroom rather than by actual ballot, due to the flurry of litigation that follows electoral contests. 

“The electoral process, particularly at the level of the political parties (talking about primaries), is sometimes characterised by irregularities, deliberate subversion of the process and outright injustice. This inevitably leads to rejection of outcomes and sometimes litigation. 

“But then, our political culture is also too weak that losers in a contest find it difficult to accept their fate and prefer to rush to the courts rather than imbibe the spirit of good sportsmanship. The judiciary is also partly to blame: their rulings and judgments in electoral matters sometimes defy reason and common sense and give the impression that challenging electoral outcomes is a game of chance; hence one could as well try one’s luck,” he said. 

He said, “On the whole, however, too much litigation is not good for the polity: it accentuates the inherent instability and weakness of our democratic system. 

“It also distracts most of the stakeholders in the electoral realm: the contestants, political parties, the electoral management body and even the electorate (who may not be sure whether their votes count). 

“The way forward is to forge ahead with the ongoing reform of the electoral process, sanitise it, and do away with impunity and subversion of election rules. Very importantly, there must be internal party democracy at all times.”

By Ismail Mudashir (Abuja), Lami Sadiq (Kaduna), Hope A. Emmanuel (Makurdi), Ado A. Musa (Jos), Abubakar Akote (Minna), Abdullateef Aliyu (Lagos),  Iniabasi Umo (Uyo), Peter Moses (Abeokuta), Meluwa Kelvin (Asaba), Linus Effiong (Umuahia), Clement A. Oloyede (Kano) & Ali R. Ali (Dutse)