Court reserves judgment on Umana, PDP governorship suit

Godswill Akpabio
Godswill Akpabio

The Federal High Court in Abuja said it has reserved judgment in the case instituted against the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, by an aspirant in the governorship elections in Akwa Ibom State, Umana Okon Umana, till later this week.

Mr. Umana had sued the party over his alleged exclusion from participating in the governorship primaries due to the party’s controversial zoning policy.

After taking arguments on all the issues from their respective counsel on Monday, Justice Adeniji Ademola said judgment would be delivered this week.

According to the judge, all Counsel to parties in the case would be duly notified of the date judgment would be delivered once the court was ready.

The Counsel to the PDP, Paul Usoro, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, had in his presentation denied that Mr. Umana, a prominent member of the party and former Secretary to the Akwa Ibom State government, was
excluded from contesting the primaries of the party notwithstanding the public statement by the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh on October 29, 2014.

According to Mr. Usoro, the court should see the plaintiff’s action as premature and disregard it by dismissing the case.

But the legal Counsel to Mr. Umana insisted that the media statement by Mr. Metuh issued on behalf of the National Working Committee, NWC, of the PDP, with powers vested on it under the Constitution of the party had the effect of modifying the rules of engagement midway into the processes leading to the Governorship primaries.

The Counsel further stated that after paying the mandatory sum of ₦11million for his nomination, it would be foolhardy for any serious candidate like Mr. Umana to sleep on his rights and await his eventual annihilation before approaching the court.

Mr. Umana was represented by Godwin Obla, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Victor Iyanam, former Attorney General of Akwa Ibom State and Uzoma Ibegbulem.

The interim injunction earlier granted by the court on November 7, 2014 against the PDP and its Chairman, Adamu Muazu, and the National Working Committee of the party was further extended till judgment is fixed.

In the originating summons filed on November 5, 2014, Mr. Umana had asked the court to determine whether as an aspirant to the office of Governor of Akwa Ibom State on the platform of the PDP, he could be excluded from contesting the forthcoming primary elections of the party, or placed at any disadvantage on account of the Senatorial District, Local Government Area or ethnic group he comes from.

Besides, he had also asked the court to declare the resolution of the Akwa Ibom State Chapter of the PDP, contained in the communiqué published on pages 59 and 60 of The Nation Newspaper of April 24, 2014, unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.

He had also urged the court to determine whether the press statement issued by the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Olisa Metuh on the October 29, 2014 to the effect that only governorship aspirants from Eket Senatorial District of Akwa Ibom State were eligible to contest the Party’s primaries is unconstitutional, illegal, null and
void and of no effect whatsoever.

Based on his submission, the court on November 7, 2014 granted an Interim Injunction ordering the PDP and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, from acting on the statement issued by Mr. Metuh declaring him ineligible to contest the party’s primaries pending the hearing and determination of the originating summons
herein.

The court also granted an order restraining the PDP from excluding or in any way or manner preventing the plaintiff from participating in the governorship primaries of the Party in Akwa Ibom State earlier slated for the November 29, 2014, or the processes related thereto, pending the hearing in the case.

The order also restrained the PDP and INEC from using the results of the ward congresses of November 1, 2014 in Akwa Ibom State for any purpose, while the state chapter of the party was barred from recognising the results of the Ward Congresses for any purpose.

The court also directed that Mr. Umana and his supporters should not be prevented from participating in the said congresses pending the hearing and determination of the case.


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