The Federal High Court in Lagos, on Friday, held ruled that a plaintiff, Abdul Kareem Shittu, is the valid candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to run for the Ikorodu Federal constituency seat in the 2023 House of Representatives election.
Justice Daniel Osiagor held that Mr Shittu won the party’s House of Representatives’ primary by a simple majority conducted in Lagos state on May 24, 2022.
The judge ordered the PDP to submit his name to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the validly nominated candidate for the Ikorodu Federal Constituency.
Justice Osiagor made the order while delivering judgment in the suit brought by an originating summons application, challenging the PDP’s purported submission of the name of the third defendant, Awesu AbdulAzeez to INEC as its candidate for the constituency.
The PDP and INEC are the first and second defendants in the suit.
Delivering judgment on the third defendant’s preliminary objection on the ground that the matter is statute-barred, Justice Osiagor held that the plaintiff did not run foul of Section 285 of the Electoral Act 2022 (as amended), which prescribed a 14-day window for pre-election matters.
He held that what Mr Shittu complained of was not the result of the election but the purported submission of the name of the third defendant to INEC on the 17th of June, which he became aware of on the 18th of June, adding that the plaintiff’s suit takes care of that window limitation.
On the third defendant’s objection that the plaintiff did not seek the resolution of the dispute through the internal mechanism of the party as stipulated in the party’s constitution, Justice Osiagor held that the party’s rule is subservient to the Electoral Act.
He added that the provisions in the party’s rules which provide for internal mechanism in dispute resolution cannot rob the Federal High Court of jurisdiction that was freely given under the Electoral Act.
The judge further held that there was no cogent reason given for the repeat election of June 6, nor the cancelation of the primary election of May 24 as the INEC form was signed by officials of the party responsible for same.
He also noted that the INEC official countersigned it with the name of the plaintiff written on it as winner of the primary election.
The judge added that, to make matters worse, the PDP did not come to court to deny or file any document to prove the genuineness of the May 6th result tendered by the plaintiff.
In all, Justice Osiagor granted prayers 1-5 as stated in the plaintiff’s court papers. But, the court struck out reliefs 6 and 7, and dismissed relief 8 and 9.
The judge warned that politicians should note that gone were the days when they would gather people together in the name of elections and later go back to overrule the mandate given by the people.
In his affidavit before the court, Mr Shittu had averred that he participated in the primary election conducted by the PDP to elect its candidate for the House of Representatives in Ikorodu on May 24, 2022, and got the highest number of vote cast.
He averred that having won the primary election, his name was announced in the presence of all the party’s members who witnessed and participated in the election and his name was entered into the official result slip of the party.
Mr Shittu also stated the party later cancelled the primary election due to a petition written by the third respondent, and the party rescheduled the election following which it was held on June 6.
He averred that at the rescheduled primary election in which he and Awesu AbdulAzeez participated, both of them got the same number of votes, and that in line with its guidelines, the party ordered that there should be re-run.
According to the plaintiff, the party didn’t conduct any re-run election but went ahead to nominate the third respondent as its candidate to INEC.