By Alex Enumah in Abuja
Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court, on Monday upheld the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which rejected the participation of the candidates of the Action Alliance (AA) in the forthcoming governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi States.
The party and its governorship candidates in the two states are challenging their exclusion from the November 16 gubernatorial election.
INEC had refused to accept the candidacy of Dr Samuel Alfa and Ebi Peretiemo as standard-bearers of the AA in the forthcoming governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States respectively on the grounds that their nomination forms was submitted outside the time required by law.
However, delivering judgment in the suit jointly filed by Alfa and Peretiemo, Justice Ekwo held that the plaintiffs failed to provide evidence that they were on the premises of INEC or attempted to submit their forms before 6pm on September 9, 2019, in line with INEC’s guidelines for the elections.
“The first plaintiff (AA) having not complied with the guidelines and regulations of INEC that it must submit its candidates’ nomination forms on or before 6pm on September 9, 2019 is ineligible to field candidates in the November 2019 governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States,” Justice Ekwo held.
He subsequently dismissed the suit for lacking in merit.
The suit, dated September 19, was filed same day by the counsel to the plaintiffs, Malachy Nwaekpe.
In the joint suit marked, FHC/ABJ/CS/1100/19, AA, Alfa and Peretiemo had contended that having complied with the provisions of 85(1) to (2) and section 31(1) of the Electoral Act, INEC could not have validly rejected the nomination of their candidates for the forthcoming elections in the two states.
The plaintiffs said they were at the INEC headquarters on September 9, 2019 to submit Forms CF001 and CF002, among other nomination forms for the two candidates.
They said they were given tag number 15, but an INEC official in charge of the collection of the forms refused to accept their forms when it got to their turn.
While praying the court to declare the refusal of INEC to accept their nomination as candidates in the Kogi and Bayelsa States election as unlawful, they prayed the court for an order directing INEC to, “Forthwith collect the plaintiffs’ forms CF001 and CF002, and nomination forms EC25C and EC 4B(v) and publish the names of the 2nd and 3rd plaintiffs as the 1st plaintiff’s nominated candidates for the November 2019 governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States respectively.
“An order directing the defendant not to conduct any governorship election in Kogi and Bayelsa States without including the names of the 2nd and 3rd plaintiffs as the 1st plaintiff’s nominated candidates for the November, 2019 governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States respectively.”
They also prayed the court to declare as null and void any governorship election conducted in the two states without their participation.
The suit was supported by a 15-paragraph affidavit deposed to by the National Secretary of the AA, Vernimbe James.