Home Latest Insights | News Kano High Court Annuls the Candidature of Labour Party’s Alex Otti, Abia State Governor-elect

Kano High Court Annuls the Candidature of Labour Party’s Alex Otti, Abia State Governor-elect

Kano High Court Annuls the Candidature of Labour Party’s Alex Otti, Abia State Governor-elect

A Federal High Court sitting in Kano has nullified the candidature of Abia State governor-elect, Dr. Alex Otti, and other candidates who ran for electoral office under the Labour Party in both Abia and Kano states.

Justice M. N. Yunusa, delivering his judgment, held that their emergence was not in compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022.

“The party that has not complied with the provisions of the electoral act cannot be said to have candidate in an election and cannot be declared winner of an election; this being so, the votes credited to the 1st defendant is a wasted vote,” he said.

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The judgment follows a suit marked FHC/KN/CS/107/2023, which was filed by one Mr Ibrahim Haruna Ibrahim against the Labour Party and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), challenging the process of the primary elections in the states.

According to the suit, the Labour Party failed to submit the names of its members in the 35 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in both hard and soft copies to INEC, 30 days before the primaries as stipulated by the Electoral Act.

In the judgment, the court held that the 1st defendant’s failure to submit its register to the electoral body, violates the Electoral Act and thus, renders the purported primary election “null and void and of no effect.”

“The fundamentally flawed primary election of the first defendant, (Labour Party) as a result of failure to comply with the mandatory provisions of sections 77(2) and (3) cannot produce a qualified candidate,” the court rules.

However, some lawyers have faulted the judgment, saying it cannot stand. Festus Ogun, a constitutional, electoral and human rights lawyer, listed several grounds on which the ruling will not hold.

He said 1, “the Suit was instituted over a month after the election has been conducted and winners, including Alex Otti have emerged.

“2. Those whose interests are adversely affected were not joined as party to the suit.

“3. Who is Ibrahim Haruna Ibrahim? Under the Electoral Act, 2022, only an aspirant who actually participated in the primaries can challenge the candidate of any party.

“4. The issue of party membership is an internal affair of political party which the court cannot entertain.

“5. The suit is academic and the judgment cannot serve any purpose since the election had already been conducted,” he said, adding that the judgment CANNOT survive appellate scrutiny. “It will be quashed on appeal.”

Public interest and human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, said the court’s grounds for the nullification, which goes against all established principles of law and fair hearing, cannot legally stand.

“How can a court assume jurisdiction in a matter that is indisputably statute barred?” he asked… “A court in Kano cannot nullify primaries outside Kano.”

“The issue of submission of a party’s membership register to INEC cannot be the basis for disqualification of candidates. It cannot be the basis for nullifying primaries across the country,” he said.

He said as a pre-election matter, the case should have been filed within 14 days of the primaries.

Effiong noted that the case was filed on the 11th day of May, 2023, while Alex Otti emerged as the gubernatorial candidate of LP during primaries held in June 2022.

“Section 285 of the Constitution states that all pre-election matters must be filed within 14 days of the event,” he said, adding that the case is also belated.

The Labour Party has not issued any statement on the judgment, but it is expected to be appealed.

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