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February 21, 2024

Court rejects suit seeking to compel INEC to recognise Udofia as APC guber candidate Judgment

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By Taiye Agbaje
A Federal High Court (FHC) in Abuja on Thursday struck out a suit seeking to compel the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to accept and publish the name of Mr Akanimo Udofia as governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the March 11 election in Akwa Ibom.

Justice Emeka Nwite, in a judgment, held that the court lacked jurisdiction to decide the matter after it had been adjudicated upon by a court of coordinate jurisdiction and an Appeal Court.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the APC and Udofia had sued INEC as the sole defendant in the matter.

Udofia sought an order compelling INEC to accept his name as governorship candidate for Akwa Ibom 2023 poll.

He also asked for an order directing the commission to publish his name as forwarded by the party to it.
The court after listening to parties in the suit had fixed Oct 6, 2022 for judgment.

But the appearance of Enang in court forced the judge to halt the delivery of the judgment.

Enang, the ex-presidential aide, drew the attention of the court to his presence as a party seeking to be joined in the matter and the court granted his prayer in a motion he brought for joinder on Dec. 6, 2022.

The ex-lawmaker, a contestant in the APC May 26, 2022 primary election in the state, drew the attention of the court to a similar matter which he had earlier filed at FHC, Uyo and was reserved for judgment.

NAN reports that the court sitting in Uyo had, on Nov. 14, 2022 in its judgment, nullified the nomination of Udofia as the governorship candidate of the APC in Akwa Ibom.

The judge, Agatha Okeke, in the suit marked: FHC/UY/CS/114/22, ordered the APC to conduct a fresh governorship primary within two weeks but barred Udofia from participating in the new primary.

But Udofia had filed an appeal marked: CS/C/370/2022 at Court of Appeal, Abuja to challenge the FHC judgment and the superior court set aside the Uyo court’s judgment on Jan. 19.

The court held that the lower court wrongly assumed jurisdiction to entertain the case contrary to provisions of Section 97 and 98 of the Sheriffs Act.
Meanwhile, while delivering judgment on Udofia’s suit on Thursday, Justice Nwite agreed with Enang that the instant suit and the Uyo matter were similar.
He said reliefs in Udofia’s suit were similar to the reliefs granted by the Uyo division of the court in Enang’s case.
Justice Nwite, who read all the 10 reliefs granted by the Uyo court, said: “It is not in dispute that the reliefs sought in the instant suit is similar to the reliefs granted by my learner brother, Okeke A.A., which the Appeal Court had also set aside.”
He disagreed with the submission of Udofia’s counsel, Umeh Kalu, SAN, that the court should assume jurisdiction and make an order directing the electoral umpire to accept and publish his client’s name as candidate for the governorship poll.
The judge said that his court can neither assume jurisdiction on a matter which had been decided by a court of coordinate jurisdiction nor review the decision of the superior court.

NAN reports that Enang, while adopting his processes also argued that an appeal had already been filed at the Supreme Court over the decision of the appellant court and a notice of appeal filed before the court.

Justice Nwite, who struck out the suit, held that his court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the matter.(NAN)(www.nannews.ng)

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edited by Sadiya Hamza

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