Court strikes out APGA aspirant’s suit
Ahead of the senatorial primaries a High Court at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has struck out the suit brought by a disqualified senatorial aspirant, Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu, which had challenged his disqualification by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
The court presided over by Justice O.A. Musa had in his ruling on the application brought by APGA challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit held that the matter being a pre-primary issue, there is nothing to adjudicate on.
He noted that” if a person has not participated in the primaries of a political party he cannot approach the court for any purpose. Any such action remains a political question within the exclusive domain of political parties.
He further declared: “The only recognised exception, where a person can approach the court is under Section 87(9) of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended. This case does not fall within that exception.”
The court accordingly declined jurisdiction to entertain the suit and subsequently struck it out.
Specifically, APGA had asked the Court to dismiss the suit brought by a disqualified Ukachukwu challenging his disqualification by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party.
It would be recalled that the court presided over by Justice Musa had on the 21 November restrained the NWC and APGA from taking any decision contrary to the decision of the party’s National Assembly Appeal Panel as it affects the qualification/disqualification of the applicant.
The court had also restrained the party from executing or acting on such decision pending the determination of the motion on notice filed by the plaintiff and to maintain the status quo ante bellum pending the hearing and determination of the suit.
But in a swift reaction through its counsel, Patrick Ikwueto (SAN), the party asked the court for an order dismissing and striking out the suit for want of jurisdiction and for being a gross abuse of process.
He averred that the claims of the plaintiff are not justifiable and that he has no cause of action, adding that the instant suit is a pre-primary action seeking to foist the plaintiff on the party (a duly registered political party) as an aspirant in the party primaries to be conducted by APGA.
Ikwueto stated that the court has no jurisdiction to entertain the suit and or any application filed therein. He urged the court to dismiss the suit in the interest of Justice.
Ukachukwu had through his counsel, Orji Nwafor-Orizu, gone to the court for a declaration that by a proper interpretation of paragraph 23(2)(3)(4) and (5) of the APGA Electoral Guidelines for primary elections, 2014, the plaintiff whose appeal has been allowed by the National Assembly Screening Appeal Panel is qualified to contest as an aspirant in the primary election to be conducted by the party at any time for the office of senator for Anambra South Senatorial District for the 2015 general elections.
He also sought for a declaration that the decision of the National Assembly Screening Appeal Panel as it concerns the qualification of the plaintiff to contest as an aspirant at the primary eslection to be conducted by the defendant pursuant to paragraph 23(4) of the electoral guidelines is binding on the defendant pursuant to paragraph 23(5) of the aforesaid guidelines.
And a declaration that any election conducted by the defendant without the plaintiff who has been cleared by the appeal panel is null and void.
It would be recalled that the APGA NWC had in a statement after its meeting in Abuja on November 20, disqualified Ukachukwu reversed the clearance of Ukachukwu by the Anambra State National Assembly Appeal Panel.
In a statement signed by the National Chairman, Chief Victor Umeh, and National Secretary, Dr. Sani Abdulahi Shinkafi, the party stated that the NWC resolved that the purported clearance of Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu by the five-man National Assembly Screening Appeal Panel be reversed and his non-clearance be restored for the following reasons;
The five-man National Assembly Screening Appeal Panel became truncated and, therefore, improperly constituted when it did not sit as a full panel in accordance with Article 23(2) of the APGA Electoral Guidelines for primary elections 2014.
The aspirant, when asked in his nomination form, sworn under oath, failed to disclose the pendency of a criminal charge against him at the Federal High Court, Lafia.
Given the aspirants’ political history and voyage, the National Working Committee noted that the aspirant may defect to another political party if elected under the platform of APGA. The NWC noted the aspirant had in the past moved from the PDP to ANPP, then to Hope Democratic Party and back to the PDP and now to APGA. The wave of defections the party had suffered recently from elected political office holders who abscond from the party with the party’s mandate is a great source of concern for the party.
The statement further said that “the resolutions of the National Working Committee in paragraph (1) (2) and (3) above are pursuant to the powers conferred on the National Executive Committee of the party, acting through the NWC as a final authority over all disputes arising from the primary election process including the screening/clearing of aspirants, in accordance with the provisions of article 25(3) and articles of the APGA electoral guidelines for primary elections 2014.