• Begs judge not to transfer case to Kaduna

By Alex Enumah in Abuja

A House of Representatives aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Yusuf Ali, has urged a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja not to transfer his petition challenging the outcome of the party’s primary election in Kaduna South Federal Constituency to the Kaduna division of the Federal High Court over alleged threat to his life.

Ali, who contested to represent Kaduna South Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, is alleging that the primary election that produced Mukhtar Ahmed Monrovia as candidate of APC in the 2019 election was fraught with irregularities.

The APC had submitted the name of Mukhtar Monrovia to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the candidate of the party in the 2019 House of Representatives election for the Kaduna South Federal Constituency instead of the name of the plaintiff.

Ali in the suit alleged that he was the only candidate cleared by the party to contest election to the House of Representatives to represent Kaduna South Federal Constituency on the platform of the APC.

He submitted that the APC in Kaduna failed to organise a primary election on two separate occasions, adding that the so called primary that produced Monrovia was organised by the governor of the state with some of his aides.

The plaintiff therefore in the suit with N0:FHC/ABJ/CS/314/2018 is asking the court to nullify the purported election conducted by the governor on the grounds that it runs contrary to the country’s electoral Act as well as the APC’s constitution.

Defendants in the suit are the All Progressives Congress (APC), Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Mukhtar Monrovia.

When the matter came up on Thursday, trial judge, Justice Giwa Ogunjobi, asked the plaintiff to show cause why the matter should not be transferred to Kaduna division of the Federal High Court since the issue in dispute took place in that jurisdiction.

Responding, the plaintiff told the court he cannot go to Kaduna as his life had been under threat since he instituted the legal action.
The plaintiff, through his counsel, S.O Achugamwonye, told the court that he had been receiving strange phone calls warning him to abandon the suit.

He further submitted that the volatile nature of Kaduna politics and the current security situation in the state will make it suicidal for the plaintiff to attend proceedings in the state. “Even now the plaintiff cannot safely go to Kaduna. He has been receiving strange phone calls”, he said.

The plaintiff’s counsel argued that since all the three defendants are resident in Abuja, it will be more appropriate to try the case in FCT.

In a short ruling, the court however declined to grant the request, noting that there was no evidence before the court to show that the plaintiff’s life is at risk. “If you say there is threat to life, you have not told us who is threatening his life. You have not laid any evidence before the court for us to believe you that the plaintiff’s life is threatened”, she said.

“For convenience and speedy trial and the fact that pre election matters are time bound, I transfer the case file to Kaduna division of the federal high court”, the judge held.

In the Originating Summons filed on 6thNovember, 2018, the plaintiff is asking the court to determine, whether “Having regard to the fact that the plaintiff was the only aspirant cleared by the 1stdefendant as being qualified to contest the election for Kaduna South Federal Constituency and no other person was cleared or validly elected for the purpose of the said election, that the plaintiff remains the only candidate of the 1stdefendant to be recognised by the 2nddefendant”.

The plaintiff also wants the court to determine whether a governorship candidate has the power to conduct primary election and select who to represent the state at various levels.

The plaintiff wants to know whether the refusal of Appeal Panel to receive the plaintiff’s appeal “arising from the kangaroo and ‘arrangee’ kind of primary held on 6th October 2018 is not a flagrant violation of Article 21 C (I) of the first defendant’s constitution”.

He therefore wants the court to nullify, cancel, void the primary election of 6th Oct, 2018 held in Tavern Hotel, Governor Road, Kaduna “for being an illegality and declare the plaintiff the valid candidate of the 1st defendant to contest Kaduna State Federal Constituency election come 2019.