Benue APC guber crisis: Court fixes November 17 for judgement - NEWS FRONTIER DAILY


Thursday, November 3, 2022

Benue APC guber crisis: Court fixes November 17 for judgement

By Editor

There is growing anxiety in Benue state after an Abuja Federal Court presided over by Justice Ahmed Mohammed fixed November 17, 2022 for ruling in the suit filed by the former Attorney General of the Federation and All Progressives Congress, APC, Benue state governorship aspirant, Mike Aondoakaa challenging the legality of the party's gubernatorial primary election. 

Justice Mohammed fixed the date, Wednesday after counsels adopted their processes in the matter. 

Mr. Aondoakaa, a Senior Advocate and chieftain of the APC dragged the party, it's governorship candidate, Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to court in Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/877/2022 seeking the nullification of the party's governorship primary election on the grounds that the APC violated its own constitution as provided under Articles 20.3 and 20.4 (as amended 2022), provisions of Sections 82(1) and 84(4) of the Electoral Act, 2022, INEC regulations and guidelines on conduct of primary elections as well as the relevant sections of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria(as amended). 

Along with the originating summons, the former AGF filed a 55-paragraphs affidavit which he personally deposed to and also tendered 22 exhibits marked Exhibit A-X. 

He alleged that the APC violated the "provisions of Sections 82 (1) of the Electoral Act, 2022 which mandates every registered Political Party  to give INEC at least 21 days notice of any convention, congress, conference or meeting convened for the purposes of nominating candidates for elective offices" amongst others as the Notice for the conduct of the purported governorship primary election in the state of May 26, 2022 was not given to him as an aspirant and INEC as an umpire. 

He submitted that in the governorship primary election result sheet for the alleged election downloaded online, the purported primaries were conducted on  May 27, 2022, as against the scheduled date of May 26, 2022. 

According to the former AGF, the rescheduling of the gubernatorial primary election of the party was done arbitrarily without notice to INEC as it was compulsory under Regulation 17(c) that, “Rescheduling of any scheduled primary election shall be by a written communication to the Commission not later than seven days to the new date; clearly stating the reasons for rescheduling, the new date and the venue.” 

He contended also that the party failed to fulfil a condition precedent which was to display the register of eligible voters which was required to be displayed at least 21 days to the date of election. He urged the court to nullify the gubernatorial primary election in line with Section 84(13) of the Electoral Act, 2022. 

In their preliminary objections to the suit, the APC and Rev. Fr. Alia through their counsels, Mathew Burkaa, and Sunday Ameh respectively asked the court to dismiss the suit, saying the cause of action occurred on May 26, 2022 and the suit was filed on June 10th, which was outside the 14 days for filing of pre-election cases. 

In his response to the preliminary objections, Aondoakaa argued that no event occurred on May 26, 2022, as even the primary election was held on May 27, 2020 adding that a cause of action begins from the day results were declared and the APC even conducted a rerun primary election on June 9, 2022 whereas the suit was filed on June 10, 2022. 

Expressing the party's expectations ahead of the judgement, the APC State Publicity Secretary, Mr. Dan Ihomun said, "as a party man I expect the best for my party bacause I am sure that the party did the right thing within the ambits of the law during the primary election. And it is my believe that the party will get justice and the court will affirm what we did. So we expect a favourable judgement." 

On his part, the State Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Mr. Bemgba Iortyom said "it is up to the court to determine what the situation should be but for us in the PDP we have implicit faith in the judiciary that it should always be the last resort of every citizen in every society for the maintenance of sanity and order. And regardless of the outcome we have our eyes on 2023 which we will win because we are the party of choice."

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