Appeal Court Shuts Out Otti, KOWA Party from Abia Governorship Dispute

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Tobi Soniyi in Abuja

The Court of Appeal, Abuja division, has dismissed the applications by the governorship candidates of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Dr. Alex Otti and Kowa party, Dan Onyeonagu in which they were seeking to be made parties to the appeal challenging the judgment of a Federal High Court which removed Dr Okezie Ikpeazu as governor of the state.

Otti, a former Group Managing Director of Diamond Bank PLC had through his counsel, Mr. Patrick Ikweto, SAN, applied to be joined in the legal tussle between the incumbent governor Ikpeazu and another PDP member, Samson Udechukwu Ogah, on the grounds that he had vested interest in the governorship tussle.

In a ‎judgment delivered by Justice Abubakar Dati Yahaya, the appellate court unanimously held that the two applicants failed to establish their interest in the internal affairs of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The court held that the subject of litigation between Ogah and Ikpeazu, who are members of the PDP, was the primary election of the party conducted on December 8, 2014.

The two applicants, the court held, being members of different political parties, had no locus standi to question the primary election of the PDP.

Justice Yahaya also held that the applicants failed to give circumstantial reasons to sway the court to exercise its judicial discretion in their favour.

Among others, the court held that the two applicants failed to transmit the proceedings of the trial court, the Federal High Court Abuja, to the Court of Appeal where their interest was supposed to have been established but merely relied on affidavit depositions to join the legal tussle at appeal court.

The appellate court further held that allowing the applicants to join the dispute would amount to attempting to change the nature of the suit from an intra-party to an inter parties which was not an issue before the court.

Describing the two applicants as, meddlesome interlopers, busy bodies, aliens and strangers to the dispute between Ikpeazu and Ogah, the court said they cannot have interest recognizable in law in the domestic affairs of another party.

Justice Yahaya further held that from the documents placed before the court, the applicants were not deprived of anything belonging to them since they did not participate in the PDP primary election adding that nothing has been taken away from them with the outcome of the said election.

“Let me make it clear that the issue at the Federal High Court which gave birth to the pending appeal here, was the primary election of the PDP conducted on December 8, 2014 in which Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu emerged winner and Samson Ogah came second.

“The respondent here (Ogah), based on information made available to him after the primary election, approached the Federal High Court to complain that the winner of the primary election was not qualified to be nominated as a candidate by PDP on the account of the submission of alleged false ‎tax clearance to obtain the PDP nomination and that he (Ogah) sought to be declared the winner of the said primary having scored the second majority lawful votes.

“From the case of the plaintiff, the challenge was the participation of Ikpeazu in the primary election and his subsequent nomination, the entire gamut of his suit, for the purpose of clarity, was the participation of another aspirant in the primary election. In other words, it is a case of an aspirant challenging the participation of another aspirant at a primary election of their political party.

“From the way the case of the plaintiff was coughed, I do not see how the interest of the applicants can come in the primary election of another party except if they want the dispute to metamorphose into inter party dispute.

“In totality, the applicants did not establish any legal rights to be joined as parties in the dispute and as such, they have no locus standi to dabble into PDP affairs. In short, they are meddlesome interlopers and their appeals lacked merit and are hereby dismissed with cost of N50,000 to each of the three respondents.”

Further details later