By Alex Enumah
The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed two separate appeals filled by Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) and Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The Supreme Court in a unanimous decision dismissed the appeals for lacking in merit after they were withdrawn by the appellants.
The appellants had approached the apex court to set aside the concurrent judgment of both a Federal High Court and Court of Appeal, both in Abuja, which upheld the decision of INEC in having them excluded from the November 16, 2019, governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States.
Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, who led a five-man panel of justices of the apex court described the cases of the appellants as mere academics and therefore cannot be heard.
“This case haven been withdrawn and having no objection is hereby dismissed, all parties bear their costs,” he held.
Earlier, the lead counsel to both appellants (ACPN and FJP), Mr A. Adamson, told the panel that his clients came to the apex court to obtain justice.
However, taking the hint from the court, he eventually withdrew the case.
His oral application for the withdrawal of the appeals were not opposed by the counsel to INEC, Mr S. O. Ibrahim, who said he would not be asking for cost.
In the appeals, both the ACPN and FJP had claimed that they were unlawfully excluded from the elections even after complying with the election timetable issued by INEC.
They claimed they did their governorship primaries in Lokoja and Yenagoa respectively on September 5, 2019, in the presence of the representatives of INEC and also met all other requirements.
However, both the Federal High Court and Court of Appeal had earlier dismissed the cases for lacking in merit.
Both parties went to the apex court for proper interpretation of the law haven been displeased with the judgments of the two lower courts.
They had prayed the court to enforce their rights to participate in elections, declare all INEC’s actions null and void and of no consequence and subsequently order for fresh elections.
Presiding judge in the case, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, reportedly delivered two judgments on Friday, October 25, affirming INEC’s decision to reject the candidates.
The court’s decision was based on the grounds that they were statute barred.
Ojukwu held that INEC took its decision based on its constitutional powers to reject any candidates after finding that both parties failed to comply with its deadline for the submission of candidates’ lists and nomination forms.