The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court has struck out a suit by an aspirant of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Benue, Michael Aondoakaa, SAN, challenging the emergence of Reverend Father Hyacinth Alia as the party’s governorship candidate for the 2023 governorship election.
Delivering judgment on Thursday in Abuja, Justice Ahmed Mohammed held that although the suit was a pre-election matter, Mr Aondoakaa filed it out of time.
“The grouse of the plaintiff is that the Benue APC primary election was not conducted in compliance with the law.
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“The APC primary election took place on May 26 and the plaintiff was enjoined by law to commerce action within 14 days.”
The judge held that the law was trite that where the cause of action was commenced on time, the litigant will have his right protected.
He said that since the primary election took place on May 26, filing the suit on June 10 made the suit statute barred.
“From May 26 to June 10 is a period of more than 14 Days for filing a pre-election matter.
“The suit is therefore incompetent and the court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain the suit and the suit is hereby struck out,” the judge said.
The judge also said that having found that the suit was filed out of time, there was no basis delving into the substantial matter.
Mr Aondoakaa, a former Attorney-General, had dragged the APC, Mr Alia and the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) to court on the grounds that the APC conducted it’s governorship primary election in Benue in violation of the law
He asked the court to declare among other reliefs that Alia was not fit to contest the primary election because he was not a member of the APC.
“A declaration that the 2nd defendant (Fr. Alia) is not qualified to vote, contest and/or be declared as the winner of the 1st defendant’s (APC) Benue gubernatorial primary election, he not been a member of the party and his name not been contained in the list of the party’s membership register submitted to INEC.
“A declaration that pursuant to the provisions of the Electoral Act and the Constitution of the APC, the party has failed or neglected or refused to conduct a primary election for the emergence of its gubernatorial candidate in Benue for the 2023 governorship elections.
“A declaration that by virtue of the non-compliance of the APC with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 and it’s constitution in the conduct of the primary election in Benue for the emergence of its gubernatorial candidate, Fr. Alia is not a candidate at the said March 11, 2023 gubernatorial election or at any subsequent election rescheduled.
“To declare as null, void and of no effect whatsoever the Benue APC governorship primaries allegedly conducted on May 26 for non compliance with the provisions of the law.
“A further declaration that the summary result sheet of the Benue APC governorship primary election dated May 28 is null, void and of no effect whatsoever.”
Mr Aondoakaa also asked the court to declare that Fr. Alia could not validly contest and be declared as winner of the APC primary election being an ordained priest of the Catholic Church and fully engaged as a minister in the employment and or service of the Catholic Church.
He also prayed the court to declare that he was not given an equal opportunity to participate in the said Benue APC governorship primary election.
He further asked the court to make an order directing a fresh conduct of Benue APC governorship primaries.
The plaintiff, in addition, asked for a perpetual injunction restraining Mr Alia from holding or carrying on or parading himself as the gubernatorial candidate of the APC for the March 11, 2023 gubernatorial election in Benue.
He asked for damages in the sum of N150 million.