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OGUN POLLS: COURT DISMISSES PDP'S SUIT AGAINST PPN

By NBF News
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The coast appears clear for candidates of the Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN) in Ogun State to contest the general elections.

This follows the ruling of a Federal High Court, sitting in Abeokuta, the state capital, yesterday, that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had no locus standi to institute a case, seeking to disqualify candidates of another party.

The court, presided over by Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, who dismissed the suit in its entirety, while ruling on an application filed by PPN, also restrained the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from 'tampering, altering or in any way removing the nomination list of the PPN as submitted to the commission by the party.'

The state PDP Chairman, Chief Dayo Soremi, and two others, on behalf of the party's candidates for the 2011 general elections, had, on March 21, approached the Federal High Court, Abuja, seeking an order to stop the PPN governorship candidate, Prince Gboyega Nasir Isiaka, from contesting the governorship election.

The party also sought an order of the court to restrain INEC from publishing the name of Isiaka and eight others as candidates for the election.

The PDP, which filed the suit, had argued that the respondents were members of the PDP before defecting to the PPN. It also added that they were previously on the list of the party as candidates for the election before decamping. At the time the case was filed in Abuja, Chief Judge of Federal High Court, Abuja, Justice Ibrahim Auta, had by a circular, dated March 16, ordered that all pre-election cases be filed in the states where the primaries and nominations were conducted.

In compliance with this directive, Justice Bilikisu Aliyu of the Federal High Court, Abuja, to whom the case was re-assigned by Justice Auta, transferred the matter to the Federal High Court, Abeokuta on March 31.

In her ruling yesterday, Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia, upheld the arguments of the PPN, saying the PDP and its members had no locus standi to institute the action and, therefore, dismissed the case.

She also restrained the INEC from tampering, altering or removing the nomination list as submitted to the commission by the PPN. Reacting to the ruling, the PDP counsel, Oluyede, said he would advise his clients to appeal against the ruling, which he described as unsatisfactory.

His words: ''the ruling is not satisfactory to my client. Definitely, we are going to appeal because we have good grounds for appeal. That ruling has set back by almost 20 years what the court has ruled about.' Citing Fawehinmi versus Akilu, Oluyede said the Supreme Court had ruled on such statutory matter that every citizen had the right to seek redress in court.

According to him, 'by the ruling, section 32 to 37 of the Electoral Act, which are novel are just there for decoration.'' But one of the counsels to PPN, Mr. Kayode Oladele, said with the two rulings, there were no other legal encumbrances against the PPN candidates to contest the elections.

He also contended that PDP's possible move to appeal the court's rulings would amount to 'a wild goose chase.'

'Anybody can go to the Court of Appeal but the big question is whether your reason for going to appeal is capable of giving you victory in the final analysis. Unlike other decisions, particularly those that emanated from Kafarati, these rulings are very sound in law and I don't see any reason the Court of Appeal can upturn them.'