Alex Enumah in Abuja
Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court has dismissed the suit by an aspirant of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Michael Aondoakaa (SAN),
challenging the emergence of Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia as the party’s governorship candidate for the 2023 governorship election in Benue State.
Justice Mohammed dismissed the suit on the grounds that the court lacked the necessary jurisdiction to hear the case since it was filed out of the required time prescribed by law.
Delivering judgment on Thursday in Abuja, Justice Mohammed held that although the suit was a pre-election matter, Aondoakaa filed it out of time.
“The APC primary election took place on May 26 and the plaintiff was enjoined by law to commence action within 14 days,” the judge held.
He explained that the law provides that where the cause of action was commenced on time, the litigant will have his right protected.
He however noted that since the primary election took place on May 26, filing the suit on June 10 made the suit statute barred.
“From May 26 to June 10 is a period of more than 14 Days for filing a pre-election matter.
“The suit is therefore incompetent and the court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain the suit and the suit is hereby struck out,” the judge said.
The judge also said that having found that the suit was filed out of time, there was no basis delving into the substantive matter.
Aondoakaa, a former Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, had dragged the APC, Fr. Alia and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to court challenging the conduct of the APC’s governorship primary election in Benue State.
He had alleged that the May 26 primary was done in violation of the law.
Amongst reliefs sought included a declaration that Alia was not fit to contest the primary election because he was not a member of the APC.
“A declaration that the 2nd defendant (Fr. Alia) is not qualified to vote, contest and/or be declared as the winner of the 1st defendant’s (APC) Benue gubernatorial primary election, he not been a member of the party and his name not been contained in the list of the party’s membership register submitted to INEC.
“A declaration that pursuant to the provisions of the Electoral Act and the Constitution of the APC, the party has failed or neglected or refused to conduct a primary election for the emergence of its gubernatorial candidate in Benue for the 2023 governorship elections.
“A declaration that by virtue of the non-compliance of the APC with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 and its constitution in the conduct of the primary election in Benue for the emergence of its gubernatorial candidate, Fr. Alia is not a candidate at the said March 11, 2023 gubernatorial election or at any subsequent election rescheduled.
“To declare as null, void and of no effect whatsoever the Benue APC governorship primaries allegedly conducted on May 26 for non-compliance with the provisions of the law.
“A further declaration that the summary result sheet of the Benue APC governorship primary election dated May 28 is null, void and of no effect whatsoever.”
Aondoakaa also asked the court to declare that Alia could not validly contest and be declared as winner of the APC primary election being an ordained priest of the Catholic Church and fully engaged as a minister in the employment and or service of the Catholic Church.
He also prayed the court to declare that he was not given an equal opportunity to participate in the said Benue APC governorship primary election.
He further asked the court to make an order directing a fresh conduct of Benue APC governorship primaries.
The plaintiff, in addition, asked for a perpetual injunction restraining Alia from holding or carrying on or parading himself as the gubernatorial candidate of the APC for the March 11, 2023 gubernatorial election in Benue.
He asked for damages in the sum of N150 million.