October 4, 2022

Rattled by an order of a Federal High Court Abuja in a suit seeking to scuttle its May 28, 2022 presidential primary, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has approached the Court of Appeal in Abuja.

Abia state Commissioner of Trade and Investment Cosmos Ndukwe had dragged PDP and Chairman of its Primary Election Planning Committee and National Secretary of the party, Senator Samuel Anyanwu and others before the court praying that the primary election be stopped.

His grouse was premised on the alleged refusal of PDP to zone its presidential ticket for the 2023 presidential election to South-East geo-political zone and his disqualification from participating in the presidential primary election.

In addition, the aggrieved PDP presidential aspirant, also in the originating summons marked FHC/ABJ/CS/508/2022, filed an ex-parte application for an order to restrain PDP from going ahead with the primary election until his suit was fully determined.

While ruling on the ex-parte application argued by Paul Erokoro (SAN) April 28, the presiding judge, Justice Donatus Okorowo refused to grant the request of the plaintiff who was a former Deputy Speaker in the Abia State House of Assembly.

The application was challenged by counsel to PDP, Mr Kalu Agu who urged the judge not to grant the plaintiff ’s request.

Justice Okorowo further ordered PDP and its Primary Election Planning Committee to appear before the court May 5 to show cause on why the primary election should not be stopped at the instance of the suit brought before him by the plaintiff.

But dissatisfied with the High Court’s decision, the Primary Election Planning Committee Chairman, Senator Anyanwu, filed a notice of appeal at the Court of Appeal in Abuja praying that the order of Justice Okorowo be set aside.

Among others, the appellant, (Senator Anyanwu) claimed the Judge erred in law by denying him fair hearing in breach of section 36 (1) of the 1999 Constitution.

Anyanwu argued: “The learned trial judge erred in entertaining an exparte motion which seeks to stop the presidential primary election of the appellant without hearing notice”, adding that the court further erred in law when it failed to “aver its mind to section 84(15) of the Electoral Act, 2022, before making an order to show cause.”

The appellant in the Notice of Appeal dated April 29, further urged the court to allow the appeal and set aside the ruling of Justice Okorowo asking the PDP to show cause why its scheduled primary election should not be halted.

He asserted that the originating summon of the plaintiff was not ripe for hearing and that the time for him to file counter affidavit against the suit had not lapsed when the Judge gave the order.

Senator Anyanwu further asserted that the Judge erred in not directing the plaintiff to put him (Anyanwu) on notice but rather, directed him to show cause on an ex-parte application allegedly anchored on an incompetent originating summons.

He, therefore, asked the Court of Appeal to void and set aside the order of the Federal High Court of April 28 asking him to show cause on why the primary election should not be stopped.

Apart from Ndukwe, other respondents in the appeal are the PDP, the party’s national chairman, Dr Iyorchia Ayu and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as 1st to 4th respondents respectively.

The notice of appeal was filed on his behalf by an Abuja lawyer, Kalu Agu.

Our correspondent reports that no date has yet been fixed for hearing of the matter as at the time of this report

PDP files preliminary objection

Also, the PDP , in a Notice of Preliminary Objection filed Friday by its lawyer, Mr Mahmud Magaji (SAN), submitted that the subject matter of the case which borders on whether to zone its presidential ticket to any part of the country is not an issue that the court has the mandate to decide.

The party said, rather than grant the request, the judge ordered that the PDP appear before it and show cause why the court should not accede to the plaintiff’s demand.

The PDP asked the court to strike out the suit for want of jurisdiction and also dismiss it for being “statute-barred”.

According to the defendants, “the cause of action in the suit relates to the internal affairs of a political party and therefore falls within the doctrine of political questions which are non-justiciable” and as such the court lacks jurisdiction to entertain it.”

On the issue of statute-barred, the PDP noted that the cause of action arose from the PDP National Zoning Committee Communique of April 5 whereas the plaintiff’s suit was filed on April 19 (15 days after) in violation of Section 285 of the Constitution which provides for 14 days to file such cases.

While arguing further that the plaintiff lacked the necessary legal right to initiate the case, the PDP submitted that no civil right of the plaintiff has been wronged pursuant to section 6(6) of the Constitution.

The party, therefore, urged the court to uphold its objection and dismiss the case of the plaintiff, adding that the plaintiff would not be prejudiced or suffer any hardship if the case was dismissed.

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