Court removes Donald Duke, declares Jerry Gana SDP flag- bearer
An FCT High Court in Maitama yesterday declared a former minister of Information, Prof. Jerry Gana, winner of the presidential primary election of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) conducted on October 6, 2018.
The party had declared a former governor of Cross River, Mr. Donald Duke, winner of the election and its flag-bearer for next year’s general elections after it said he (Duke) polled 812 votes, while Gana had 611.
However, Gana went to court, seeking that he be declared winner in line with the zoning and rotation formula of the party’s constitution.
Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf, in his judgment, ruled that the regulations contained in the party’s constitution were binding on every member and must be obeyed.
He held that the zoning and rotation formula, as contained in the party’s constitution, stipulated that both the chairman and the presidential flagbearer should not come from the same zone.
“In this instance, the party’s Chairman, Chief Olu Falae, is from the South and Duke is from the South too. The law is clear, there is nothing to write in-between.
“The law has crystallised that political parties should abide by the regulations, which they have made by themselves.
“The claimant laid sufficient evidence to have the judgment in his favour. It is a clear violation of the party’constitution. The court cannot waive right over illegality,” he held.
The Judge, therefore, declared Gana the winner of SDP presidential primary election and that Duke’s 812 votes were null and void and ordered SDP to forward Gana’s name to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the party’s flag-bearer for the presidential election.
In addition, he ordered that Duke should stop parading himself as the party’s flag-bearer for the elections.
Gana had joined SDP, Falae, National Secretary, Alhaji Shehu Musa Gabam; Chairman, SDP Presidential Screening Panel/ Deputy National Chairman, South, Prof. Tunde Adeniran, Duke and INEC as defendants in the suit.
Gana sought a declaration that Duke was not eligible to stand as a candidate in the primaries and that he (Gana) ought to have been declared the winner of the SDP presidential primary election, having polled the highest valid votes in the said election.
The former minister wanted an order of the court declaring him the validly elected flag bearer of the party for the elections.
He also sought a perpetual injunction restraining Duke from parading himself as the SDP presidential candidate for the elections, among other reliefs, arguing that under Article 15(3) of the SDP Constitution, the office of the national chairman of the party and the presidential candidacy shall rotate between the northern and southern parts of the country.