From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Barely few days to the conduct of its presidential primary, a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory(FCT), Abuja, has summoned the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) to appear before it on May 26, in connection with a suit challenging the high cost of expression of interest and nomination forms imposed on aspirants by the party.
In the suit marked FCT/CV/144/2022, the plaintiff, Okey Uzoho, is contending that the act of the PDP interposing a monetary condition as additional qualification criteria for aspirants amounts to a violation of the 1999 constitution.
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Justice C. Emisiri of the Jabi division of the court issued the summon, yesterday, with a directive that hearing notices be served on the respondents before the next adjourned date fixed for May 26.
The summons was necessitated by the absence of the respondents in court when the matter was called. The two defendants in the suit are the PDP and the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC).
The plaintiff, Okey Uzoho, a card carrying member of the PDP, said he is desirous of contesting for the office of President of Nigeria in the 2023 election as the flag-bearer of the party.
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In his supporting affidavit to the suit, he however averred that he was denied the opportunity of actualising his aspiration on the grounds that he could not submit a bank draft in the sum of N40 million, being a condition precedent for acquiring the expression of interest and nomination forms for the party’s presidential primary election.
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The aggrieved politician posed the following questions for the determination of the court: “Whether having regard to section 131 read along with section 1(1) and (3) of the 1999 constitution, the PDP is entitled to impose or interpose as additional qualification/s the payment of N40m by the plaintiff, as further qualification to seek the party’s sponsorship for election to the office of president of Nigeria. Whether having regard to the provisions of section 84(3) of the Electoral Act 2022, it is not unlawful and in violation of the aforesaid provisions of the Electoral Act for the PDP to demand and insist on collecting the sum of N5m for expression of interest form and another sum of N35m for presidential nomination form, from the plaintiff before he could aspire to the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on its platform.
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“Whether it is lawful for the 1st defendant (PDP), to refuse or neglect to avail the plaintiff of its expression of interest form and presidential nomination form for the party’s presidential primary election for the 2023 election,for reasons of non-payment of the sum of N40m for purchase of the said forms. Whether having regard to the provisions of item 15(a), (c), (f) and (i) of the third schedule to the 1999 constitution; and section 83(2) and (4) of the Electoral Act 2022, the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC), ought to accept and/or give effect to the outcome of the party’s 2023 presidential primary election where the plaintiff was not allowed to participate on account of non-payment of N40m under the guise of purchasing expression of interest form and nomination form for the said primary election or any related guise. Whether the refusal to supply him with the necessary forms required for participation in the party’s 2023 presidential primary election is not in violation of his right to peaceful assembly, association and freedom from discrimination as enshrined in sections 40 and 42 of the 1999 Constitution.”
The plaintiff is demanding the sum of N50m as compensation for the anxiety, inconvenience, loss of valuable campaign time occasioned by the denial to participate at the presidential primary. He is also seeking an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants from excluding him from the presidential primary.
He is further pressing for an order of injunction compelling the PDP to provide him with all the necessary facilities to ensure his participation in the party’s primary election for the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The originating summon is accompanied by a 12-paragraph affidavit of urgency deposed to by a legal practitioner, Zephaniah Bashi.