The Federal High Court in Lagos on Friday ordered the Peoples Democratic Party to submit the name Abdul Kareem Shittu to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the party’s candidate for Ikorodu Federal Constituency.
Daniel Osiagor, the judge, held that Mr Shittu won the party’s Lagos State House of Representatives primary conducted on 24th May by a simple majority.
The judge ordered the PDP to submit Mr Shittu’s name to INEC as the validly nominated candidate for the constituency.
Mr Osiagor made the order while delivering judgment in Mr Shittu’s suit challenging the PDP’s purported submission of the name of the third defendant in the suit, AbdulAzeez Awesu, to INEC as its candidate for the constituency.
The PDP and INEC are the first and second defendants.
Delivering judgment on the third defendant’s preliminary objection on the ground that the matter is statute-barred, Mr Osiagor held that the plaintiff did not run afoul of Section 285 of the Electoral Act which prescribed a 14-day window for pre-election matters.
He said that what Mr Shittu complained of was not the result of the election but the purported submission of the name of the third defendant to INEC on the 17th of June, which he became aware of on the 18th of June, adding that the plaintiff’s suit takes care of that window limitation.
On the third defendant’s objection that the plaintiff did not seek the resolution of the dispute through the internal mechanism of the party as stipulated in the party’s constitution, the judge held that the party’s rule is subservient to the Electoral Act.
He added that the provisions in the party’s rules which provide for internal mechanism in dispute resolution cannot rob the Federal High Court of jurisdiction that was freely given under the Electoral Act.
The judge further held that there was no cogent reason given for the repeat election of 6th June, nor the cancellation of that primary election of 24th May as the INEC form was signed by officials of the party responsible for same.
He also noted that the INEC official countersigned it with the name of the plaintiff written on it as winner of the primary election.
The judge added that to make matters worse, the PDP did not come to court to deny or file any document to prove the genuineness of the 6th May result tendered by the plaintiff.
In all, Mr Osiagor granted prayers 1-5 on the face of the plaintiff’s motion paper. He struck out reliefs 6 and 7, and dismissed relief 8 and 9.
The judge warned that politicians should note that gone were the days when they would gather people together in the name of elections and later go back to overule the mandate given by the people.
In his affidavit before the court, Mr Shittu had averred that he participated in the primary election conducted by the PDP to elect its candidate for the House of Representatives in Ikorodu on 24th May and got the highest number of votes cast.
He averred that having won the primary election, his name was announced in the presence of all the party’s members who witnessed and participated in the election and his name was entered into the official result slip of the party.
Mr Shittu stated the party later cancelled the primary election due to a petition written by the third respondent, and the party rescheduled the election following which it was held on June 6.
He averred that at the rescheduled primary election in which he and Awesu AbdulAzeez participated, both of them got the same number of votes and based on that and in line with the party’s guidelines for primary election to nominate its candidate, there should be re-run.
He added that the party didn’t conduct any re-run election but went ahead to nominate the third respondent as its candidate to INEC.
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