Kogi High Court refuses to stop APC governorship primary election

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The Vacation Judge sitting at the High Court of Justice in Lokoja, Kogi State, Hon. Justice Abdul Nicodemus Awulu, on Thursday declined the exparte application filed by Mustapha Mona Audu to stop the governorship primary election of the All Progressives Congress (APC) scheduled to hold in state capital.

Mustapha Audu had filed an experte application before the Vacation Judge “pursuant to section 6(6)a and (b) of the 1999 constitution of Nigeria as amended and order 11 rule 7, sub 1 & 2 of the Kogi State (Civil Procedure)5 Rules 2006.”

He sought among others, an interim order restraining the defendants from conducting the Kogi State’s governorship primary election scheduled to hold on 29th August, 2019 pending the determination of motion on notice before the court.

He also sought an interim order to restrain the defendants from organizing any activities connected to the conduct of the election and any other order that the court may deem necessary to make in the circumstance.

Defendants in the suit are Adams Oshiomhole, the National Chairman of the APC; the Chairman of the APC Governorship Primary Election; the Chairman of the APC Governorship Primary Election Appeal Committee and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The grounds on which the applicant based his request in the originating summons with suit no HCL/34/2019 and dated 28th August, 2019 include, among others, that the exclusion of his name from the governorship aspirants in the list of governorship candidates of the APC was a breach of his right and that the conduct of the screening exercise by the party was in breach of the party’s constitution.

He therefore wanted the court to direct that he be included as one of the aspirants contesting the primary election and an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants from conducting the primary without including his name.

He said he will suffer irreparable loss if the defendants were not restrained from conducting the primary election. The motion was supported by a fifteen paragraph affidavit deposed to by the applicant with another affidavit of urgency of seven paragraphs.

Ruling on the matter today, 29th August, 2019, Hon. Justice Awulu, after listening to counsel to the applicant, D. D. Dugbanya Esq., declined to stop the conduct of the governorship primary election. Dugbanya had relied on the affidavits and adopted the written address filed along with the motion.

Hon. Justice Awulu stated in his ruling: “I have perused the application vis-à-vis the affidavits in support and of urgency along with the written address of counsel. I have refrained from raising the issue of jurisdiction suo moto at this stage to prevent an entry into the arena. Let me save that until the motion on notice.

“However, the issue to resolve is whether a court can restrain by an order of injunction the holding of a primary election by a political party. This is my view and I so hold that the holding or conducting primary election by a political party cannot be stopped by an order of injunction.”

In addition to supporting this position with a decision of the Court of Appeal where it was “held that courts have no power to grant orders of injunction restraining the conduct of party primaries”, he said: “Also, Section 87(10) of the Electoral Act, 2010, as amended, provides as follows: “nothing in this section shall empower the courts to stop the holding of primaries or general election or the processes thereof under this Act pending the determination of a suit‘”

His lordship therefore concluded that “based on the law, and even without determining the issue of jurisdiction yet, I hold that the orders of interim injunction sought in so far as these are to prevent the governorship primary election of second defendant is refused and hereby dismissed.”

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