ON THE TRIBUNAL MATTER OF DR. DAWARI GEORGE & HON. LUCKY ODILI
It has been rumoured all over the social media that owing to the failure by the APC to issue a 21 days prior notice to INEC for the conduct of her Primaries, the Election Tribunal struck out 2 Election Petitions filed by the APC. Well, assuming but without conceding that the above is the true account, then I make bold to say that the Election Tribunal erred in Law.
This is because, the issue of holding proper Primaries or not issuing such valid notice to INEC, cannot be competently raised by a Person who did not participate in the said Primaries of the Party(APC) in question. In essence, only the ASPIRANTS of the APC have the requisite _locus standi_ to contest or challenge the Primaries conducted by their party and not any other busybody or the candidate of another party.
My position as expressed above is well fortified by the Supreme Court decision in PDP VS. Sylva (2012) 13 NWLR(PT 1316) 85 at pages 126 -96 ratio 2 and 3. Held : 1. ON MEANING OF ASPIRANT : ” The word ” aspirant” has been defined by section 156 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended ) to mean a person who aspires or seeks or strives to contest an election to a political office……From section 87 (1) of the Electoral Act, 2010 ( as amended ), an aspirant is a person who contested the primaries of a political party. Thus an aspirant is a candidate in the Primaries. 2. ” By virtue of Section 87 (9) of the Electoral Act, 2010(as amended); notwithstanding the provisions of the Act or rules of a political party, an aspirant who complains that the provisions of the Act and guidelines of the political party has not been complied with in the selection and nomination of a candidate of a political party for election may apply to the Federal High Court or the High Court of a State or the Federal Capital Territory may apply for redress. Section 87(9) of the Act confers on the courts to hear complaints from a candidate who participated at HIS PARTY'S PRIMARIES and complains about the conduct of the primaries. It has given the court the wide powers to adjudicate on any dispute arising therefrom with a rider. For any member of a political party to question any result of party primaries conducted under the Act, he must bring himself within the ambit of an aspirant, that is, a member who has participated in the party primaries, otherwise, his action is not maintenable for want of LOCUS STANDI. He must be a candidate duly screened by the party for its primaries and is aggrieved in one way or another by the process. In the instant case, the Ist respondent did not participate as a candidate in the appellant’s primaries which held on 19th November 2015 to choose the party’s candidate for the general election for Governor of Bayelsa state fixed for 12th February 2012. Not being a candidate, the 1st respondent could not be heard to complain about the conduct of the primaries. “The question now is, did the PDP and its candidate participate in the Primaries of the APC? if not, the Tribunal should have held that their preliminary objection was incompetent and brought without _locus standi_” I am sure that this score would be sufficient to nullify the Tribunal’ s Ruling if properly raised as a ground of appeal.
Written by Dolapo Tella Attoni Esq.