Court sacks Duke as SDP presidential candidate, picks Jerry Gana

former governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke
former governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke

An FCT High Court in Maitama on Friday declared a former Minister of Information, Jerry Gana, the winner of the presidential primary election of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) conducted on October 6.

The party had declared a former governor of Cross River state, Donald Duke, the winner of the election and its flag bearer for the 2019 presidential election.

The party said Mr Duke polled 812 votes while Mr Gana had 611.

However, Mr Gana went to court seeking to be declared the winner in line with the zoning and rotation formula of the party’s constitution.

In his judgment, Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf held that the regulations contained in the party’s constitution were binding on every member and must be obeyed.

He held that the zoning and rotation formula as contained in the party’s constitution stipulated that both the chairman of the party and the flag bearer should not come from the same zone.

“In this instance, the party’s Chairman, Chief Olu Falae, is from the South and Duke is from the South too; the law is clear; there is nothing to write in-between.

“The law has crystallised that political parties should abide by the regulations which they have made by themselves.

“The claimant laid sufficient evidence to have the judgment in his favour; it is a clear violation of the party’s constitution; the court cannot wave right over illegality,” he held.

The judge, therefore, declared Mr Gana the winner of SDP presidential primary election conducted on October 6.

He also declared Mr Duke’s 812 votes null and void and ordered SDP to forward Mr Gana’s name to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the party’s flag bearer for the 2019 presidential election.

In addition, he ordered that Mr Duke should stop parading himself as the party’s flag bearer for the election.

Mr Gana had joined SDP, its National Chairman, Mr Falae; National Secretary, Shehu Gabam; Chairman, SDP Presidential Screening Panel/ Deputy National Chairman, South, Tunde Adeniran; Mr Duke and INEC as defendants in the suit.

Mr Gana sought a declaration that Mr Duke was not eligible to stand as a candidate in the party’s presidential primaries held on October 6 in Abuja.

He also sought a declaration of the court that he ought to have been declared the winner of the SDP presidential primary election, having polled the highest valid votes in the said election.

The former minister wanted an order of the court declaring him the validly elected flag bearer of the party for the 2019 General Elections.

Mr Gana also sought a perpetual injunction restraining Mr Duke from parading himself as the SDP presidential candidate for the elections, among other reliefs.

He had argued that under Article 15(3) of the SDP Constitution, the office of the national chairman of the party and the presidential candidacy shall rotate between the northern and southern parts of the country. (NAN)

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