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Court dismisses suit seeking disqualification of APC governorship candidate in Benue



Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Friday, dismissed a suit seeking the disqualification of the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate in Benue State, Rev. Father Hyacinth Alia.

The judge held that the suit filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and one Titus Uba was incompetent and dismissed it accordingly.

He stressed that the plaintiffs lack the locus standi (legal right) to institute the case in the first place.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), APC, Alia, Mr. Isaac Vembe, and Mr. Samuel Ode were listed as respondents in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1556/2022.

The plaintiffs accused the APC of substituting its deputy governorship candidate, Vembe with Ode without any written communication to INEC to convey the former’s withdrawal in accordance with the provisions of Section 31 of the Electoral Act, 2022.

The act, according to them, also contravened sections 187 (1) and 285 (14) (c) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and INEC’s relevant timetable, regulations, and guidelines.

The plaintiffs, who sought five reliefs, urged the court to restrain INEC from recognising Alia as the APC governorship candidate in the March 11 election in Benue State.

READ ALSO: Supreme Court dismisses appeal on APC governorship primary in Benue

They argued that Alia can neither nominate concurrently two deputy governorship candidates for the election nor was he competent to contest without any deputy governorship candidate since the time for doing so had elapsed.

In his judgment, Justice Ekwo held that the provision of Section 285 (14) (c) of the 1999 Constitution which the plaintiffs relied on as giving them the locus stand in the case was taken out of context.

According to him, there is no word or phrase therein that gives any political party or Uba, as an individual, locus standi to challenge the activity or candidate of another political party.

The judge agreed with the respondents that the subject matter of the suit was exclusively an internal affair of the APC.

He said: “It is quite obvious that the provision of Section 29 (5) of the Electoral Act, 2022 which the plaintiffs sought refuge, has made it so.

“By giving locus standi only to ‘an aspirant’ who participated in the primaries of his political party to file a suit.”

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