The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has held that there is no cogent reason given by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for a repeat election or the cancelation of its primary election of May 24 for the Ikorodu Federal Constituency.
The court therefore ordered the PDP to submit to INEC, the name of Abdul Kareem Shittu, as the candidate of the party in place of Awesu AbdulAzeez whose name was submitted.
Justice Daniel Osiagor held that Shittu won the party’s Lagos State House of Representatives primary conducted on May 24, 2022, by a simple majority.
Justice Osiagor also held that the INEC form signed by officials of the party and contersigned by the INEC official had the name of the plaintiff, Abdul Kareem Shittu, written on it as winner of the primary election.
The judge directed the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to recognise Shitu as the validly nominated candidate for the Ikorodu Federal Constituency.
The judge made the order while delivering judgment in Shittu’s suit challenging PDP’s purported submission of the name of the third defendant in the suit, Awesu AbdulAzeez A. to INEC as its candidate for the constituency.
The PDP and INEC are listed as the first and second defendants.
The third defendant, Awesu had challenged the suit on the grounds that it was statute-barred but in his judgment, Justice Osiagor held that the plaintiff did not run afoul of Section 285 of the Electoral Act which prescribed a 14-day window for filing of pre-election matters.
He held that what 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 as freely given under the Electoral Act.
The judge noted 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.
The judge warned politicians to note that gone were the days when they would gather people together in the name of elections and later go back to overule the mandate given by the people.
In his affidavit before the court, Shittu had submitted 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 votes cast.
He stated 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.
Shittu also said thatvthe 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 contended that at the rescheduled primary election in which he and Awesu AbdulAzeez participated, both of them got the same number of votes and based on that and in line with the party’s guidelines for primary election to nominate its candidate, there should have been a re-run.
He added that instead of conducting one, the party went ahead to nominate the third respondent as its candidate to INEC, a situation which compelled him to file the suit in court.