The Federal High Court Abuja division on Wednesday voided the election of Emmanuel Ibediro as the National Organizing Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
It declared the election that produced Emmanuel Ibediro inconclusive and restrained Ibediro from parading himself as the National Organizing Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Consequently, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba in his judgment ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the APC to ensure that the election into the office of the National Organizing Secretary of the party is concluded or conducted afresh within 30 days from the date of the judgment.
Justice Dimgba ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure that the APC complies with its Constitution and guidelines in electing its officers.
In addition, the court also ordered the INEC not to accord further recognition to Ibediro or in any way treating him as the National Organizing Secretary of APC.
The court further ordered that the election into the office of the National Organizing Secretary of the APC should be held under the supervision of the INEC where all the duly accredited delegates will be allowed to cast their votes voluntarily and without let or hindrance.
Justice Dimgba’s judgment was in respect of a suit filed by Senator Osita Izunaso against the Independent National Electoral Commission, the All Progressives Congress and Emmanuel Ibediro.
In the said suit marked FHC /ABJ/CS/733/2018, Senator Izunaso challenged the outcome of the election into the office of the National Organizing Secretary of the APC which took place at the party’s National Convention held on June 23 and 24, 2018, at Eagle Square, Abuja, on the ground that it was inconclusive.
The Senator had contested for the disputed post of National Organizing Secretary of the APC, which had been zoned to the South East region of the country, by the APC, along with five other contestants.
At the end of the process, Ibediro was announced as winner of the election for the disputed position with 1749 votes, while the plaintiff, Senator Izunaso, who was the occupier of the post prior to the convention election, came second with 1459 votes.
In the suit, Senator Izunaso claimed that the election was inconclusive, and that Ibediro ought not to have been declared the winner of the election for the post.
He further claimed that thugs numbering about 100 wearing T- shirts with the slogan “Ugwumba Uche Nwosu, 2019′ disrupted the election by preventing delegates from voting.
He urged the court to declare that the purported return and declaration of Emmanuel Ibediro as the winner of the said election into the office of the National Organizing Secretary of the APC under the supervision of INEC is illegal null, and void.
The Plaintiff had through his counsel, Ahmed Raji (SAN) formulated six questions for the determination of the court as well as 12 declarative reliefs out which 10 were granted by the court.
Before its judgment in the substantive suit, the court dismissed the notice of preliminary objection raised by counsel to the APC and Ibediro, Oladipo Okpeseyi (SAN) challenging the competence of the suit and the court’s jurisdiction to adjudicate on the matter.
Although the Independent National Electoral Commission was represented by its counsel, Taminu Inuwa, now a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), the commission opted to maintain its neutrality in the dispute.
In dispensing with the preliminary objection, Justice Dimgba assumed jurisdiction to hear and determined the suit since issues in contention were outside internal squabbles of the party.
After considering arguments canvassed by counsel to both parties for and against the suit, the court agreed with the plaintiff thus: “There is no shred of doubt that indeed the said election was marred by acts of violence and thuggery, and which acts were perpetrated by political thugs sympathetic to the 3rd Defendant (Ibediro).”
“Looking at all these depositions as well as the arguments of counsel contained in the written address, I really do not believe that the 2nd and 3rd Defendants (APC and Ibediro) have presented an effective defence or presented an alternative narrative to the claim of the plaintiff that the election was marred with such violence and thuggery, significant voter exclusion and disenfranchisement and generally inconclusive such that the 2nd defendant ought not to have declared the 3rd defendant as winner.”