Sarah Jibril Asks Court to Stop Atiku
A Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential aspirant, Mrs. Sarah Jibril, has approached a Federal High Court in Abuja for an order of injunction restraining the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from accepting the nomination of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as a presidential aspirant of the ruling party for the April general election.
This comes as another Abuja High Court will today give judgment on whether President Goodluck Jonathan will participate in PDPâ€™s presidential primary election.
Three loyalists of Atiku Ambassador Yahaya Kwande, Hon. Dubem Onyia and Alhaji Lawal Kaita all members of the ruling party, had approached the High Court seeking to stop the party from allowing President Jonathan from taking part in the primary election.
Three of the defendants, namely the PDP, its National Chairman, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo and President Jonathan had filed preliminary objections challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the case.
In an application for the order, she listed as defendants the PDP; its National Chairman, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo; INEC and its Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega; Chairman of the Northern Political Leaders Forum (NPLF), Mallam Adamu Ciroma and Atiku.
She is challenging Atiku's emergence as the consensus candidate of the North on the ground that the process that brought Atiku out as the Northern candidate was discriminatory.
Jibril, the only woman PDP presidential aspirant, also wants the court to restrain PDP and INEC from processing or considering Atiku's application as the party's presidential aspirant for the presidential election on account that he was the consensus candidate of all the PDP presidential aspirants from the Northern geo-political zone of the country.
In a 22-paragraph affidavit in support of the motion on notice, Jibril stated that she was the most qualified PDP presidential aspirant.
She said she had intimidating resume and better qualifications than all the other Northern aspirants put together and that she never had any criminal records or any case of fraud against her.
Jibril said she was not invited to be heard like other co-aspirants/contestants to be considered by the NPLF and that all her efforts to reach the forum were rebuffed.
I was never invited nor considered for presentation as the consensus candidate of the 19 Northern states under the platform of the 1st defendant (PDP) despite the fact that I am a known presidential aspirant from one of the Northern states under the platform of the 1st defendant, she argued.
The alleged discrimination against her by the Ciroma-led forum on the bases of her sex and religion, she noted, was a violation of her constitutional right to fair hearing and constitutional right not to be discriminated against on the bases of sex and religion.
According to her, Atiku's nomination as the consensus candidate for the presidency under the platform of the PDP would put her in a politically disadvantaged position and unequal playing ground with Atiku during the conduct of PDPâ€™s presidential primary election slated for January 13, 2011.
Jibril is asking the court to hear her case on time and had therefore filed a five-paragraph affidavit of urgency in support of her motion.
Except the reliefs being sought in this application are urgently granted, I will suffer irreparable loss that cannot be compensated in financial terms on the 13th January, 2011 when the 1st defendant will conduct its presidential primaries for all her presidential aspirants, she concluded.
The case is yet to be fixed for hearing.
Meanwhile, after losing a similar suit filed at an Abuja High Court, a PDP presidential aspirant, Alhaji Aminu Dutsinma, has asked a Federal High Court in Abuja to order INEC to compel the party to obey the principle of zoning and rotation as entrenched in its constitution.
The plaintiff, in an application for an order of mandamus filed by his lawyer, Mr. M.B. Wali, asked the court to declare that by virtue of Article 7.2 C of the PDP constitution, which he claims, provided for zoning and rotation of the presidency, he has a right to contest the partyâ€™s primary election slated for January 13.
The Notice of Summons was brought pursuant to Order 34 R 1(1)a (2)(a)(b)(c),4,5,6,8 and 9(1) of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure Rules) 2000, and section 6(6) of the 1999 Constitution.
He is also praying the court to order INEC to direct PDP to comply with the orderly zoning and rotation policy provided under Article 7.2 of its constitution with regard to the conduct of the primary election for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The applicant is also seeking from the court, A declaration that any nomination or sponsorship of a candidate for the primary election to the Office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in breach of the binding provisions of the party constitution contained in Article 7.2 thereof with regard to orderly zoning and rotation is not duly sponsored and therefore in breach of section 131(c) of the constitution.
He is also praying for a declaration that by virtue of Article 15(c) of section F of Part 1 of the third schedule of the constitution, the 1st respondent (INEC) is solely responsible for directly ensuring the proper conduct of the affairs of the 2nd respondent (PDP) including compliance with the provisions of both its own constitution and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Dutsinma had filed a similar suit before Justice Lawal Gummi of an Abuja High Court.
The court in that case held that it lacked the power to direct PDP on how to implement its zoning arrangement. Justice Gummi observed that although PDP recognised zoning in its constitution, the party did not state in specific terms how the zoning formula would be adopted.