Breaking: Appeal Court Knocks Delegates…You Have No Right to Challenge Process

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The Court of Appeal Benin, yesterday May 26, 2022 ruled that the choice of delegates of political parties is their internal affair and not a matter to be decided by court.

The ruling is sequel to an appeal brought by the pro-Chief Dan Orbih’s faction of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, challenging the earlier judgement granted by Edo State High Court on the matter.

The judgement held that the issue of adhoc delegates congress is purely an internal affair of the Peoples Democratic Party and that the courts, including the Federal High Court Abuja have no jurisdiction to hear the case in the first place.

It went further to say that no adhoc delegate who is not an aspirant in the primaries of a political party has the right to institute an action to challenge the process.

Section 84 of the Nigerian Electoral Act, 2022 as amended, stipulates the mode for choice of candidates by political parties, which includes, direct, indirect or consensus.

In the case of indirect primary, members are required to elect adhoc delegates at a special congress who will in turn choose their candidates.

Specifically, subsection (14) have relief to ‘aggrieved’ ‘aspirant’ that took part in a primary election.

The section states that: “Notwithstanding the provisions of this Act or rules of a political party, an aspirant who complains that any of the provisions of this Act and the guidelines of a political party have not been complied with in the selection or nomination of a candidate of a political party for election, may apply to the Federal High Court for redress.”

This section or any other section of the Electoral Act did not state any relief for adhoc delegates.

It will be recalled that a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja had earlier ordered the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), its National Chairman, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, National Secretary, Senator Samuel Anyanwu and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) among others to ensure that only those who emerged as delegates in the ad-hoc delegates election monitored by INEC in Edo State partake in the party primaries to choose candidates for the various elective political offices.

The order was made by Justice I. E. Ekwo on Tuesday, May 17, 2022 and was upon an exparte motion brought by some of the special delegates on the behalf of others.

The vexed Delegates are pro-Chief Dan Orbih, the party’s national vice chairman, South-South.

The plaintiffs, on behalf of the 19 National Delegates were Fred Attah, Henry Amienkhenan, Gideon Ikhine and Prince Tijani Ugbodaga.

In the affidavit of claim, they affirmed that they were elected during the May 10, 2022 Local Government Congresses and as such that no other person outside those who emerged should be given the right as national delegates in the primary elections.

The court considered their plea and granted an Order of interim mandatory injunction directing the Defendants/Respondents to recognize the Plaintiffs/Applicants and all those delegates whose names are contained in Exhibit A12 and A12A attached to the Affidavit in Support of this Motion Ex-Parte who were elected during the Local Government Local Government Area Congress of the 1st Defendant/Respondents on the 10th day of May, 2022 to participate fully and vote at the forthcoming Delegates/Primary Elections of the 1st Defendant in Edo State and the Special National Convention of the 1st Defendant for the election of the 1st Defendant’s Presidential Candidate pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice.

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