Alleged illegal primary: Akwa Ibom PDP to know fate July 15

A Federal High Court, Abuja, has fixed July 15 to deliver judgment in a suit filed by some aggrieved members of Akwa Ibom People’s Democratic Party (PDP) against the party over alleged conduct of the state’s primary elections in violation of the party’s guidelines.
Justice Obiora Egwuatu fixed the date on Tuesday after counsel for the parties in the suit adopted all their processes and presented their positions for and against the suit.
The plaintiffs; Mr Friday Iwok and 31 others, had sued the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the PDP and the elected ad-hoc delegates who emerged from the ward congresses conducted as 1st to 3rd defendants respectively.
In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/606/2022, the plaintiffs want the court to declare the outcome of the ward congress of the party in Akwa Ibom a nullity.
The development followed the PDP’s ward congress organised on April 30 to elect three ad-hoc delegates that would vote in the party primaries.
The applicants, however, filed a suit, asking the court to set aside the results of the ward congress.
They alleged that no election was conducted to choose the ad-hoc delegates in the state.
The judge, on May 18, made an order directing parties to maintain a status quo ante bellum pending the hearing and determination of the matter.
But despite the order, the PDP, on May 22, conducted its primaries using the said delegates.
The primaries were conducted to elect its candidates for the 2023 House of Assembly and House of Representatives elections.
The applicants had, on May 15, accused the PDP of flouting the order of the court in going ahead with the just-concluded primary polls in the state despite the court order.
The aggrieved members; through their lawyer, Ahmed Raji, SAN, told Justice Egwuatu that his order made on May 18 was disregarded by the defendants.
Raji, therefore, prayed the court to set aside the primary election which was conducted on May 22, having failed to obey the court order which directed parties to maintain a status quo ante bellum.
Upon resumed hearing on Tuesday, lawyer to the PDP, Paul Usoro, SAN, and counsel for the 3rd to 131st defendant, Uwemedimo Nwoko, SAN, disagreed with Raji’s submission.
They argued that having challenged the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter, any order made by the court would amount to an exercise in futility.
According to Usoro, we have a preliminary objection dated May 24 and filed same day.
“It was filed with a written address and filed same date,” he said.
He argued that the plaintiffs lacked a locus standi to institute the suit having not participated in the exercise, citing a previous Supreme Court ruling to back his argument.
Also, Nwoko corroborated Usoro’s submission, urging the court to dismiss the suit for being incompetent.
“The plaintiffs did not bought forms and they declared intent to be elected as delegates.
“Having not bought any form and showed any interest, we submit that these plaintiffs lack locus to come before this court to institute the suit,” he said.
Nwoko also argued that the mode of commencing the suit was defective.
“This suit is too hostile and contentious to be taken on the basis of the originating summons. Therefore, it is incompetent,” he said.
The senior lawyer said the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the suit, urging the judge to so hold.
Counsel for the INEC, Abdulaziz Sani, SAN, on his part, declared his neutrality in the matter.
Justice Egwuatu adjourned the matter till July 15 for judgment

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