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Court declines to nullify Rivers PDP guber primary

By Joseph Onyekwere (Lagos) and Ameh Ochojila (Abuja)
09 July 2022   |   4:01 am
The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has dismissed a suit seeking to nullify the outcome of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial primary held in Rivers State on May 26, 2022.

Nigeria justice

• Oborevwori Appeals Verdict

The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has dismissed a suit seeking to nullify the outcome of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial primary held in Rivers State on May 26, 2022.

Justice Taiwo Taiwo also declined to restrain the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from accepting the winner of the primary.

The judge held that Dr. Farah Dagogo who filed the suit had no locus standi to do so. The primary was won by the immediate past Accountant General of Rivers State, Siminaliayi Fubara.

Dagogo, who joined the PDP and INEC as first and second defendants, is a serving member of the lower chamber of the National Assembly, representing Degemma/Bonny Federal Constituency of Rivers State.

The lawmaker, in his originating summons of May 12, averred that he purchased the PDP Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms for the gubernatorial primary, completed and returned the same to the first defendant with all the relevant accompanying documents.

He claimed that he presented himself for screening on April 28 2022, “only to be whisked away by security agents at the order of Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, with the active connivance of members of the Screening Panel/Committee,”

He contended that the PDP, by failing to screen him to contest the governorship primary had violated his right contrary to section 84(3) of the Electoral Act, 2022 and sections 36, 40 and 42 of the 1999 Constitution.

But PDP filed a motion on notice of May 24, 2022 praying for an order striking out the suit on the ground, according to it, that the court lacks the competence and jurisdiction to entertain the matter.

On June 17, 2022, when the matter came up for adoption of processes, S. Larry (SAN) represented Dagogo, while K. C. O Njemanze (SAN) represented the 1st defendant. The court adjourned for judgment.

In the judgment seen by The Guardian yesterday, the court upheld the PDP’s application.
Justice Taiwo held: “Therefore, it is my finding that the grouse of the plaintiff cannot be met or decided by this court for lack of locus standi on the part of the plaintiff. I so hold.

“Since I have in my humble view decided that based on the law and facts presented by the plaintiff, he lacks the locus standi to file this action, it will amount to mere academic exercise to consider any other grounds of objection even if the grounds can be decided against the plaintiff in the extant motion on notice of the 1st defendant.

“The action of the plaintiff, therefore, fails in limine and same is liable to be dismissed. The suit is therefore accordingly dismissed. This is the judgment of the court.”

In a related development, the Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Sheriff Oborevwori has appealed Thursday’s judgment by a Federal High Court in Abuja voiding his nomination as the governorship candidate of the PDP in the state.

Oborevwori, in a nine-ground notice of appeal, filed, yesterday, wants the appellate court to set aside the judgment given by Justice Taiwo Taiwo in a suit by David Edevbie.
He has also filed a motion on notice before the Federal High Court in Abuja for stay of execution of the judgment pending the determination of his appeal.

The speaker is contending among others, that Justice Taiwo misdirected himself in law when he assumed jurisdiction to entertain the claim of the plaintiff, predicated on Section 29(5) of the Electoral Act, 2022 before submission of his name (the appellant’s) to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

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