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PDP Asks Appeal Court to Nullify Judgment Recognising Enyong as Its Guber Candidate in Akwa Ibom
Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has asked the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal to set aside the judgment of a Federal High Court in Abuja, which declared Hon Michael Enyong as its authentic candidate in the March 11 governorship election in Akwa Ibom State.
The PDP’s request was contained in an appeal against the entire judgment of Justice Fadima Aminu, who had on January 20, ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to forthwith recognise and publish Enyong’s name as the candidate of the party in the said forthcoming governorship election in the state.
Delivering judgment in the suit marked: FHC/ ABJ/CS/1295/2022, the trial judge had berated the PDP who is the 2nd defendant in the suit for acting arbitrarily, adding that political parties and politicians must learn to subject themselves to the Constitution and their own rules.
The court observed that the defendants did not file any process to controvert the plaintiff.
Based on this, the court held that the plaintiff successfully proved his case on the preponderance of evidence and went ahead to declare Enyong as the validly nominated governorship candidate of the party in the state.
While noting that conditions for forwarding any other name besides the plaintiff was not met by the PDP, the judge held that the party has no power to act contrary to the outcome of the primary election.
Dissatisfied with this decision, the PDP through his lawyer, Mr. Paul Usoro (SAN), approached the appellate court to set it aside on the grounds that the trial court breached its right to fair hearing, was misdirected by the 1st respondent in the appeal, adding that the suit was statute barred as at when it was filed on August 1 by the 1st respondent.
In the appeal filed on January 30, the PDP claimed that the trial court was without jurisdiction when it entertain and adjudicate over and determine Enyong’s suit against it when it was not served with the Originating Summons and as such erred in law and occasioned a miscarriage of justice.
In the seven grounds of appeal against the judgment of Justice Aminu, PDP accused the trial court of breaching its fundamental rights to be heard in the matter, when the court proceeded to hear and determine the case against it without service of the Originating Summons.
The appellant also contended in grounds three of the appeal that the case of Enyong was already statute barred as at the time it was filed on August 1, 2022. Hence, the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain it.
According to the appellant, Section 285(9) of the Constitution provides a 14 days timeline for any aggrieved person to file its case in a pre-election matter, adding that while the case was filed on August 1, the cause of action occurred in May 25, several weeks after the action.
The PDP further disagreed with the 1st respondent that he became aware that his name was not submitted on July 22, when INEC published names of candidates in the 2023 general election.
According to the PDP, the final date for submission of nominees to INEC was July 15, and nomination forms are sent to nominees for completion before or on July 15, adding that Enyong ought to know by July 15, 2022 that he was not the qualified candidate of the PDP in Akwa-Ibom governorship election.
Similarly, PDP in grounds four of the appeal argued that the trial judge was misdirected in entering judgment in favour of Enyong based on May 18, 2022 the order of Justice Obiora Egwuatu which was made in ultra vires powers of the court.
It is the case of the PDP that elected ad-hoc delegates of the party voted for candidates of their choice and the winner was Pastor Umo Bassey Eno.
The PDP in addition stated that no statutory delegate voted at the said governorship primary, adding that the appellant and Eno had successfully defended the victory in court in suit number: FHC/UY/CS/110/2022 between Akan Ekpe Okon against the PDP and two others where judgment was delivered in their favour, adding that the Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment in suit number CA/C/369/2022 on January 19.
Appellant further submitted that it did not conduct any guber primary in Akwa Ibom after May 25, neither did it conduct any other, order than the one that produced Pastor Eno.
The appellant accordingly prayed the Court of Appeal, to allow the appeal and set aside the judgment of Justice Aminu, which declared Enyong as its candidate for the March 11 governorship election in Akwa Ibom State.
Enyong had on August 1, 2022 dragged INEC and PDP, who are 1st and 2nd respondents respectively to court for refusing to recognised him as the authentic candidate of the PDP in the forthcoming governorship election in Akwa-Ibom State.
In the suit filed on his behalf by his lawyer, Mr Peter Nwatu, plaintiff claimed he had emerged winner at the PDP’s primary election of May 25, after scoring a total of 2,448 out of 2,776 votes in the pry conducted and ratified by the National Executive Committee of the PDP.
He said, however that the party refused to submit his name to INEC as its candidate for the gubernatorial election.
He added that when INEC published its list of candidates for various elective position in the 2023 general elections, his name was not included, hence the legal action.
Amongst the questions he raised for determination are that whether by provisions of the electoral law and the judgment of Justice Obiora Egwuatu of the Federal High Court, Abuja, he was not the authentic and validly nominated governorship candidate of the PDP in the March 11 in Akwa Ibom State.