WHO CAN INSTITUTE AN ACTION IN COURT TO COMPLAIN ABOUT THE CONDUCT OF A POLITICAL PARTY PRIMARIES
CASE TITLE: MARAFA & ORS v. DAN ALHAJI & ORS (2019) LPELR-47012(CA)
JUDGMENT DATE: 25TH MARCH, 2019
PRACTICE AREA: ELECTORAL MATTERS
LEAD JUDGMENT: TOM SHAIBU YAKUBU, J.C.A.
SUMMARY OF JUDGMENT:
This appeal borders on Electoral Matters.
This is an appeal against the Ruling and Judgment of the High Court of Zamfara State delivered by Shinkafi J, on the 25th day of January 2019 in Suit No. ZMS/GS/52/2018 wherein the High Court overruled the Appellants preliminary objection and gave judgment in favour of the 1st to 38th Respondents and directed the 39th-41st Respondents to accept the names of the 1st to 38th Respondents as the candidates of the 39th Respondent for election to the offices of Governor, National and State Assembly elections fixed for 2019.
The 1st to 38th Respondents on appeal were the Plaintiffs at the High Court. At the High Court as per their amended statement of claim dated 13th November 2018, the Plaintiffs claimed the following reliefs:
- a) AN ORDER DECLARING as lawful and valid the primary elections conducted by the APC (herein Plaintiffs party) under the supervision of the 3rd Defendants and security agent on the 3rd and 7th day of October 2018 for the purpose of producing candidates to vie for the various elective office which produce the Plaintiffs under the platform of the 1st Defendant.
- b) A DECLARATION that any decision or steps taken to reverse the results of the primary election duly conducted on the 3rd and 7th day of October 2018 and monitored by the 3rd Defendant is or will amount to a nullity, void and of no effect whatsoever.
- c) A DECLARATION that the 1st Defendant is bound to recognize, accept and forward to the 3rd Defendant the list of candidates that emerged winners in the Governorship, National Assembly and State Legislative Houses primary elections of the 1st Defendant in Zamfara State held on the 3rd and 7th October 2018 and monitored by the 3rd Defendant.
- d) A DECLARATION that the 3rd defendant cannot refuse or shut out the 1st Defendant from presenting or forwarding to it the list of candidates that emerged winners in the Governorship National Assembly and State Legislative Houses Primary Elections in Zamfara State having been conducted on 3rd and 7th October 2018 to hold their primary elections.
- e) A DECLARATION that the 3rd defendant cannot refuse to accept and publish the list of candidates that emerged winners of the Governorship, National and State Legislative Houses Primary elections of the 1st Defendant in Zamfara State submitted to it for the 2019 general elections.
- f) AN ORDER of this Honorable Court directing the 3rd Defendant to accept and publish the list of Governorship, National and State Legislative Houses primary elections of the 1st Defendant in Zamfara State held on the 3rd and 7th October 2018 and monitored by the 3rd Defendant.
- g) AN ORDER directing the 3rd defendant to accept and accord due recognition to the list of candidates that emerged winners in the Governorship National and State Legislative Houses Primary Elections of the 1st Defendant in Zamfara State on 3rd and 7th October 2018.
- h) AN ORDER mandating or compelling the defendant to recognize and accept the list of candidates that emerged winners in the Governorship, National and State Legislative Houses Primary Elections of the 1st Defendant in Zamfara State held on 3rd and 7th October 2018.
- i) AN ORDER directing the defendants to recognize only the result of the Primary election of the 1st Defendant held on 3rd and 7th October 2018 in Zamfara State.
- j) AN ORDER of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants either by themselves, through their lawful agents, privies or assign from taking any steps towards cancelling/rejecting the result of the primary election held on 3rd and 7th October 2018 and monitored by the 3rd Defendant.
- k) The cost of filing, and prosecuting this suit.
The Appellants then stated that, at all material times all the Respondents except 39th Respondent admitted that after two unsuccessful attempts to conduct primary elections, they could not proceed to conduct primaries, but on the part of the 39th Respondent it asserted that even though primary elections were not conducted, it exercised its right to present list of candidates agreed upon by consensus. The 1st to 38th Respondents insisted that primary elections were conducted but the 39th Respondent’s electoral officer for some reasons best known to him refused to submit the list of winners of the primary elections to the Independent National Electoral Commission. The 1st to 38th Respondents sensing that their list of successful candidates might be rejected by the Independent National Electoral Commission rushed to Court and instituted suit NO. ZMS/GS/52/2018, claiming the reliefs set out above. The matter then went to trial, parties called witnesses and tendered exhibits, at the end of the trial judgment was entered in favour of the Respondents, the Appellants became nettled by the decision and therefore appealed to the Court of Appeal.
ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION
The Court determined the appeal on these issues couched as follows:
- Whether having regards to the provisions of Section 251(1) (r) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, the Court below has jurisdiction to adjudicate the claim of the 1st -38th Respondents.
- Whether the Court below was right in placing reliance on materials, depositions and documentary exhibits contained in and/or attached to the counter affidavit and further affidavit by the 1st-38th Respondents in opposition to the preliminary objection, to hold that the 1st to 38th Respondents are aspirants and have legal standing to institute/maintain and or prosecute the claim in suit No. ZMS/GS/52/2018.
- Whether the Court below did discharge the duty incumbent upon it to evaluate or properly evaluate and ascribe weight to the evidence led by the parties before it before coming to the Conclusion that the 1st to 38th Respondents claim was proved and granting the reliefs sought by them.
- Whether the Appellants right to fair hearing guaranteed by Section 36(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) was breached by the Court below.
On the whole, the Court found merit in the appeal and accordingly allowed same. The decision of the High Court was therefore set aside.
- ELECTORAL MATTERS- NOMINATION AND SPONSORSHIP OF CANDIDATE: Whether a party seeking to nominate candidates for elections must hold primaries and submit the list of candidates it proposes to sponsor to INEC
- ELECTORAL MATTERS- SELECTION/NOMINATION OF CANDIDATE: Whether the procedural guidelines for the nomination/selection of candidates as provided by the law must be followed
- ELECTORAL MATTERS- POLITICAL PARTY PRIMARY: Which Court has jurisdiction in respect of party primaries
- ELECTORAL MATTERS- POLITICAL PARTY PRIMARY: Who can institute an action in court to complain about the conduct of a political party primaries
- ACTION- LOCUS STANDI: Meaning of locus standi; what the court considers in determining whether a plaintiff has locus standi