Ripples generated by the controversial governorship primary election of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Kogi state which resulted in a suit instituted by Alhaji Jibrin Isah against the party and its flag bearer will end next week Monday.
On that day an Abuja High Court will rule on the matter and decide who will be the PDP governorship flag bearer for the state’s gubernatorial election slated to hold on 3rd December.
The court will determine who is the authentic flag bearer of the party between Jibrin Isah and Idris Wada as it delivers judgement in the suit where Jibrin Isah, also known as Echocho, is praying it to uphold the primary election where he emerged as the winner.
During proceedings on Friday, counsel to Jibrin Isah, Mr. Paul Erokoro, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, argued that the plaintiff was nominated as PDP flag bearer in January 2011 and was submitted to INEC which published his client’s name as PDP’s candidate in fulfillment of legal requirement.
He further stated that the January primary election remains valid, adding that the Electoral Act provides that the primary election should be conducted not later than 60 days before the election and that it could be more than 60 days as long as it is below 60 days.
He also argued that the party did not fulfil the conditions for substitution as the party did not inform the plaintiff that his name would be substituted.
He therefore urged the court to uphold the January primary election.
Opposing the application, Chief Olusola Oke, the National Legal Adviser to the PDP, who represented the party at today’s proceedings, argued that a Federal High Court had earlier nullified the January election where Isah emerged as the winner, adding that in the eyes of the law, there is no longer a valid election.
He further added that the plaintiff participated in the fresh primary election conducted by the party in compliance with the guidelines released by the electoral body ahead of the scheduled December election in the state by purchasing nomination forms and submitting himself to be screened for the purpose of participating in the primary election.
He also argued that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had released another election time-table which is different from the one used in January and therefore urged the court to dismiss the application.
Chief Chris Uche, a senior advocate of Nigeria, who represented Capt. Idris Wada, the winner of the September 2011 primary and the 2nd defendant in the suit, argued that the suit constitutes an abuse of court process as another matter by the plaintiff is pending at the Federal High Court.
He added that governorship election in Kogi earlier scheduled for April 2011 alongside those of other states of the federation was not postponed but rather, that it was aborted with a new date fixed which means that the April election has no validity in the eyes of the law.
He also added that Isah’s name was not substituted because the primary election that brought him in was no longer valid in the eyes of the law.
Earlier the defendants had brought a Preliminary Objection challenging the territorial jurisdiction of the court to entertain the matter.
They argued that the primary election was held in Kogi and as such, any litigation should also be held in Kogi.
But the aggrieved Isah urged the court to dismiss the preliminary objections and argued that his name was submitted by the national chairman of PDP to the chairman of INEC in Abuja and that as long as that part of the transaction took place in Abuja, then a court action can be instituted in Abuja.
He further stated that the constitution specifically empowers the Federal Capital Territory High Court to entertain such issue and urged the court to dismiss the objection.
After hearing all the parties in the suit, the trial judge, Justice Sunday Aladetoyinbo, adjourned till Monday for judgment.
Specifically Isah had asked the court to determine the following questions;
*Whether having regard to the combined effect of sections 26 (1), 26(2), 87(1), 87(2), 87(3) and 87(4) (b) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) his valid and due nomination and submission of his name by the PDP to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, as the party’s Governorship Candidate in the Kogi State 2011 Governorship Election can be vitiated by the postponement of the election from April 26, 2011 to December 3, 2011?
*Whether the party can validly have conducted another Special State Congress for governorship primary election in September, 2011, for the Kogi State governorship election in view of his extant and valid nomination at a primary election duly held in January, 2011 and the submission of his name to INEC as the Governorship Candidate of the PDP for the 2011 Kogi State Governorship election?
*Whether he remains the authentic and validly nominated governorship candidate of the party, his name having been duly submitted to Independent National Electoral commission and not having been invalidated by any Court of competent jurisdiction?
*Whether the PDP can validly submit the name of any other candidate to Independent National Electoral commission as its governorship candidate in the December 3, 2011 Governorship election in Kogi State when he is not dead and has not withdrawn his candidature in accordance with of Section 33 of the Electoral Act 2010, (as amended)?
*Whether the purported submission of any name, other than his, to Independent National Electoral commission as the governorship candidate of the PDP for the Kogi State governorship election 2011, is unconstitutional, null, void and of no effect whatsoever?
He is also asking the court for a declaration that the 3rd of December, 2011, fixed by the Independent National Electoral Commission for the Kogi State Governorship Election is the date to which the said election was postponed, having earlier been fixed for April, 2011.
Other reliefs he is seeking are that:
*A declaration that he remains the authentic and validly nominated governorship candidate of the PDP and his name having earlier been submitted by the party and accepted/published by the Independent National Electoral Commission as the governorship candidate of the party, that he cannot be substituted with any other name except as provided in section 33 of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended.