From Magnus Eze, Enugu
A Federal High Court sitting in Enugu has fixed February 15 for judgement in the suit seeking the disqualification of all the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidates in Enugu State from taking part in this year’s general elections.
Candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) for Enugu North Senatorial District, Chika Idoko, instituted the case.
In the suit No: FHC/EN/CS/217/2022, Idoko dragged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the PDP, and all its candidates in Enugu State to the court.
The plaintiff is claiming that the PDP primary election was in contravention of Section 77 of the Electoral Act and should thus be voided, adding that the party should be punished in line with extant provisions of the Section 84 of the same Act.
His argument is that the party submitted its membership register to INEC on May 6, 2022, less than 30 days to its primary election, contrary to the provisions of the law.
When the matter came up again on Thursday, all the parties adopted their process, including preliminary objections and addresses for the substantive suit.
Counsel to the applicant, T. Ekpenyong told the Court that the case of his client, (Idoko) pertains to the interpretation of Section 77 of the Electoral Act.
According to him, a letter from the first defendant, which was admitted in evidence, showed that the PDP submitted the register in contravention of the Electoral Act.
The plaintiff’s counsel also cited some cases to support his assertion that his client had the locus to file the suit.
“We ask that the preliminary objection of the defendants be discountenanced,” Ekpenyong prayed the court.
The defendants, including the PDP, its governorship candidate, Peter Mbah, National and State Assembly candidates were represented by Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, Anthony Ani, (SAN), Justina Offia, SAN, and Ogochukwu Onyekwuluje.
With the exception of the first defendants, INEC, all the others filed preliminary objections.
They argued that Idoko being a member of the ADC lacked the locus standi to file the matter, adding that it was also statute-barred, as according to them, it was filed out of time.
The defendants told the court that whereas the course of action arose on May 6, the plaintiff waited till September to file the court action.
On its submissions for the main suit to be struck out, the PDP said it submitted the soft copy of its register to the INEC in March, 2022, adding that what it submitted in May was a hard copy to ease the job of the commission.
They urged the court to strike out the suit for lack of jurisdiction.
After listening to the arguments, Justice Folashade Giwa-Ogunbanjo adjourned the suit to February 15 for ruling on the preliminary objection and judgement on the substantive suit.