Court dismisses suit seeking removal of Kola Abiola as PRP presidential candidate

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*Photo: Kola Abiola*

A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Thursday, dismissed a suit filed by an aspirant, Madam Patience Key to challenge the emergence of Mr Kola Abiola as the People’s Redemption Party (PRP) presidential candidate.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed, in a judgment, held that the suit was statue barred, hence, the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain it.
Justice Mohammed, who said the suit was a pre-election matter, said it ought to have been instituted within 14 days from the date of the occurrence of the cause of action in compliance with Section 285(9) of the 1999 Constitution.
The judge agreed with the defendants that though the PRP presidential election was conducted on June 5, the plaintiff filed the suit on June 28, when the case ought to have been instituted not later than June 19.
Mohammed held that though Madam Key raised weighty allegations against the conduct of the poll, which she alleged was marred by irregularities, vote buying, non-compliance with Section 84 of the Electoral Act and gross violations of the party’s guidelines for the conduct of primaries, he said these could not take preeminence over failure to file the case within time prescribed by law.
The judge consequently dismissed the suit for lack of jurisdiction to hear it, having been statute barred.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the plaintiff, Key, had, on June 28, sued PRP, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Mr Latifu Abiola as 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants respectively.
Key, in her earlier originating summons marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1001/2022, had challenged the emergence of Mr Abiola as the party’s presidential candidate, among others.
She had prayed the court to nullify the poll that produced Abiola as the PRP’s presidential candidate, among others.
But in an amended originating summons granted by the court dated Aug. 31 and filed on Sept. 2, the plaintiff sought a consequential order setting aside the submission of Abiola’s name by PRP to INEC on June 15 as the flag,-bearer and presidential candidate for 2023 election on account of gross violations of the party’s guidelines for the conduct of primaries and the provisions of the Electoral Act.
She said the party was in breach of Section 84 (5)(b){i) and (ii) ot the Electoral Act 2022, INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Political Party Primaries, Article 5 (13(a)(i-ix) of the Constitution of the PRP’s Guidelines for the Nomination of Candidates for the 2023 General Election,” among others.
She argued that the presidential primary was conducted across the 36 states and FCT, against the provision of the Electoral Act which stipulates that primary should be conducted in one venue.
Besides, Key averred that INEC did not monitor the June 5 presidential primary in breach of the law, citing previous case, Uche Nwosu Vs. APP, to back her argument.
But in a consequential amendment of Abiola and PRP’s counter affidavits dated and filed on Nov. 5, the defendants argued that the suit was statute barred and belated.
They also denied, contrary to Paragraphs 4a and 4b of the affidavit in support of the amended originating summons, that the party’s presidential primary election was held across the 36 states of the federation, but only at the Federal Capital Territory.
They argued that INEC was duly notified about the exercise and it monitored the election conduct.
Reacting in a telephone chat with NAN shortly after the matter, Madam Key said though she did not expect the judgment would go this way, she was, however, not surprised.
She recalled that besides Justice Mohammed who determined the case, Justice Fadima Aminu had, at one time, heard the matter also.
“Justice Fadima Aminu also heard the case and following our amendment she granted it, including cases cited by my lawyer in defence of our amended originating summons.
“But Justice Aminu was removed from the case unannounced. She wasn’t even allowed to sit for the next hearing even though Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed was not back from his sudden vacation.
“I want to encourage my team and supporters to be calm, stay happy and courageous.
“We have not lost any battle,” she said.
She said she would consult with her team of lawyers to know the next line of action.
“I love Nigeria. I love the party I chose but I will not condone injustice. I will still be standing even if I am the only one standing.
“And I am optimistic that we still have many good Nigerians who genuinely want the greatness of Nigeria. God bless my beautiful country, Nigeria,” she said.
But Benjamin Ogar, counsel for the PRP, said he was elated with the outcome of the case.
Ogar said the judge had just reiterated the well-known principle of law that would stand the test of time.(NAN)(www.nannews.ng)

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