From Babatunde Rahman, Lokoja
Justice Abdul Awulu, Vacation Judge sitting at the High Court, Lokoja, on Thursday declined an exparte application filed by an All Progressives Congress (APC) aspirant Mustapha Audu to stop the on-going governorship primary election of the party.
The aspirant had 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 State (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 today, 29th August, 2019 pending the determination of motion on notice before the court.
The aspirant who is also a son of the former governor of the state, late Prince Abubakar Audu, also sought an interim order to restrain the defendants from organizing any activity connected with the conduct of the 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 28th August, 2019 the appellant based his application among other grounds, 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 Esq., said he would rely on the affidavits and adopted the written address filed along with the motion.
Ruling on the matter on Thursday, Justice Awulu, after listening to Dugbanya, declined the application to stop the conduct of the governorship primary election.
Awulu stated in his ruling: “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 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.”