The lawsuit attempting to bar all candidates for the Peoples Democratic Party in Enugu State from running in the 2023 elections was dismissed for lack of locus standi on Friday by a Federal High Court sitting in Enugu.
The Punch reported that Chika Idoko, an African Democratic Congress candidate for the Enugu North Senatorial constituency, filed the lawsuit.
Idoko had taken the Independent National Electoral Commission, the PDP, and each of its candidates in Enugu to court in suit No: FHC/EN/CS/217/2022.
He stated that the PDP primary election should be nullified because it violated Section 77 of the Electoral Act, and that the party should be sanctioned in accordance with Section 84’s current requirements.
According to Idoko’s claim through his attorney, T. Ekpenyong, the party submitted its membership record to INEC on May 6, 2022, fewer than 30 days before its primary election, in violation of the law.
He claimed that the PDP submitted the register in violation of the Electoral Act, as evidenced by a letter from the first defendant that was allowed into evidence.
Although Idoko is a member of the ADC, the defendants, which include the PDP and its candidate for governor, Barr. Peter Mbah, as well as candidates for the National and State Assemblies, claimed that Idoko lacks locus standi to file the matter and that it is also statute-barred because it was filed after the deadline.
The defendants requested that the case be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction through the representation of Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, Anthony Ani, SAN, Justina Offia, SAN, and Ogochukwu Onyekwuluje.
The defense attorneys contended that even though the case began on May 6, the plaintiff didn’t file a lawsuit until September.
The presiding judge, Justice Folashade Giwa-Ogunbanjo, stated in her ruling on Friday that the case was not statute-barred because it was submitted within 14 days of the first defendant publishing the candidates’ names.
However, the judge ruled that because the appellant was neither an aspirant nor a member of the second respondent, he lacked locus standi to bring the case.
In light of this, Justice Ohunbanjo dismissed the lawsuit, declaring: “This court lacks jurisdiction to consider the originating summons since it would be a pointless exercise.
“The court lacks jurisdiction to hear the case where the plaintiff lacks local stand to maintain the claim.”
The PDP Campaign Council applauded the court’s decision upholding the primary elections that gave rise to its candidates for the governorship, National Assembly, and State Assembly elections in 2023 in response to the ruling.
The council celebrated it as a win for democracy and pointed out that it was consistent with well-respected earlier legal rulings.
In a statement, the council’s director of public communications and spokeswoman, Nana Ogbodo, urged the opposition in the state to use the remaining campaign windows to promote themselves to Enugu state residents.
“We appreciate the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the primary elections that generated our candidates in the general election of 2023,” she stated.
“This is a win for democracy, and it goes hand in hand with the provisions of our laws and rulings by the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals in similar cases.
“We advice the opposition parties and candidates in Enugu State, who were hoping to win the election through deceit, technicalities, and propaganda, to take advantage of the remaining campaign window to raise their manifestos and travel to all corners of the state to market them to the electorate as the PDP and its candidates have been doing since 2022.
“In the meantime, she said, “We congratulate our party loyal and supporters for standing with the party every step of the way and ask them to get their voters cards ready to get out there and vote for the PDP on the 25th of February and the 11th of March 2023.” she said.