Court dismisses suit stopping Kogi APC Governorship primaries

 Justice Abdul Awulu, Vacation Judge sitting in a High Court in Lokoja, on Thursday dismissed an exparte application to stop the governorship primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kogi.

Ruling in the application filed by  Alhaji Mustapha Audu , a Governorship aspirant, Justice Awulu, held that the court cannot stop the primaries by order.

News Agency of Nigeria reports that the aspirant filed an experte application before the vacation Judge “pursuant to section 6(6)a and (b) of the 1999 constitution and Order 11 rule 7, sub 1 & 2 of the Kogi (Civil Procedure)5 Rules 2006.”

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

The aspirant who is also the son of the former governor of the state, late Abubakar Audu, also sought an interim order to restrain the defendants from organising any activity connected with the conduct of the primary 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; Chairman of the APC Governorship Primary Election; Chairman of the APC Governorship Primary Election Appeal Committee and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

In the originating summons of the suit No HCL/34/2019 and dated Aug. 28, the applicant argued that the exclusion of his name from the governorship aspirants’ list 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 urged 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 would 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 himself with another seven-paragraph affidavit of urgency.

His counsel, D.D. Dugbanya., said he would rely on the affidavits and adopted the written address filed along with the motion.

Justice Awulu, after listening to Dugbanya, declined the application to stop the conduct of the governorship primary election.

“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,” Awulu said his ruling.

He supported his 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.”

“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,” he said.

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