IT IS THE POLITICAL PARTY, NOT THE CANDIDATE, THAT CONTESTS AND WINS AN ELECTION
CASE TITLE: OZOMGBACHI V. AMADI & ORS (2018) LPELR-45152(SC)
PRACTICE AREA: ELECTORAL MATTERS
HEADING: IT IS THE POLITICAL PARTY, NOT THE CANDIDATE, THAT CONTESTS AND WINS AN ELECTION
LEAD JUDGMENT: EJEMBI EKO, J.S.C.
SUMMARY OF JUDGMENT
This appeal borders on Electoral Matters
This is a consolidated appeal. The two appeals originated from suit No.FHC/ABJ/CS/1026/2014 brought on the originating summons by the Appellant herein against the three Respondents (as defendants) in each of the two appeals.
The Appellant, as the plaintiff, sought the Federal High Court to determine the following three (3) questions:
a. Having regard to the Subsisting judgment of the Federal High Court in suit No.FHC/ABJ/CS/816/2014 BARR. ORJI CHINENYE GODWIN & ORS v. PEOPLES DEMOCRATIC PARTY & 4 ORS, the Ward Congress held by the 2nd Defendant in Udi and Ezeagu LGAs in Enugu State remain the only valid and authentic Ward Congress for the purpose of conducting Primary Election for the selection/nomination of the PDP candidate for the Udi and Ezeagu Federal Constituency.
b. Whether the selection/nomination of the 2nd Defendants candidates for the office of Member Federal House of Representatives in the forthcoming General Election can be conducted except by the Ad hoc delegates elected/selected at the Ward Congress held on 1st November, 2014 in Udi and Ezeagu LGA as per the subsisting Judgment of the Federal High Court in suit No.FHC/ABJ/CS/816/2014 aforesaid.
c. Whether the Plaintiff having been elected/nominated by the approved and authentic delegates at the primary election held on 6th December, 2014 for the selection/election of the PDP candidate for Udi and Ezeagu Federal Constituency for the forthcoming General Elections, his name ought to be submitted to the 3rd Defendant as the PDP candidate for the election to the offence of the Member Federal House of Representatives for Udi and Ezeagu Federal Constituency.
Upon the determination of the questions, the Plaintiff sought declaratory and injuntive reliefs. The trial Federal High Court (Coram: O. E. Abang, J), upon hearing the parties on the Originating Summons, entered judgment for the Appellant as the plaintiff.
The main basis of its decision was that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Appeal Panel had, in Exhibit 12, affirmed that the Appellant, as the plaintiff, duly “won the only primary election conducted by the Peoples Democratic Party in Udi/Ezeagu Federal Constituency on 6th December, 2014″. The learned trial Judge whose attention was drawn to the Court of Appeal decision in appeal No.CA/A/28/20I5: PDP v. BARR. ORJI GODWIN & ORS, which not only set aside the decision of Ademola, J in suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/816 /2014 but also struck out the entire suit; on the status of the suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/816/2014 viz-a-viz appeal No.CA/A/28/2015, held that:
The basis for setting aside the judgment was that this Court per Ademola, J. had no jurisdiction in entertaining the said suit. The fact still remains that those delegates were elected at the People’s Democratic’s Ward Congresses held at (sic) Enusu State on 1st November, 2014. This was the position of the Court of Appeal in Appeal No. CA/A/177/15: PDP & ORS v. ASADU judgment of the Court of Appeal dated 1st July, 2015, wherein it was held at p.33 of the said judgment thus:
The judgment of the said Federal High Court was set aside in Appeal No: CA/A/28/2015. That notwithstanding the decision of the appellate Court had nothing to do with regard genuity or otherwise of the delegate list.
I have not even seen any problem here. From the pronouncement of the Court of Appeal, their Lordships of the Court of Appeal have not set aside the people’s Democratic Party Ward Congress delegates’ list obtained in the ward congress election of the Peoples Democratic Party on 1st November 2014. People’s Democratic Party, the 2nd Defendant herein, did not produce any ratified or harmonised list before this Court that it claimed existed at the time of the primary election. Therefore, the list of delegate used by the 2nd Defendant in election of 6th December, 2014, subsist and it was rightly used to elect the Plaintiff as the People’s Democratic Party candidate for 2015 general election in Udi/Ezeagu Federal Constituency.”
The 1st and 2nd Respondent, respectively the 1st and 2nd Defendant at the trial Court, appealed against the decision to the Court of Appeal. The 1st Respondent’s appeal was CA/A/355A/2016; while the 2nd Respondent’s appeal was CA/A/355/2016.
The Court of Appeal in its reserved judgment delivered on 15th February, 2017, held that the judgment of Ademola, J., in FHC/ABJ/CS/816/2014 which is the fountain of resort for the 1st Respondent (the present Appellant’s) case had been set aside by the Court in the appeal No. CA/A/28/2015 and that the suit of the 1st Respondent (FHC/ABJ/CS/816/2014) had been rendered impotent, its fountain having collapsed. The Court on this issue and others allowed the appeal of the 1st and 2nd Respondents herein, who were the appellants before it.
Dissatisfied with this decision, the Appellant brought this appeal.
ISSUE(S) FOR DETERMINATION:
The Court determined the appeal on the following issue:
“Whether the Court of Appeal was right in holding that its judgment in appeal No. CA/A/28/2015: PDP & ORS v. BARR. CHINENYE GODWIN & ORS, removed the basis for the questions for determination and the reliefs sought in the originating summons.”
In the final analysis, the Court held that the appeals lacked merit and they were accordingly dismissed. Consequently, the decision of the trial Court was affirmed.
- ELECTORAL MATTERS- ELECTION – Whether the votes in an election belong to the political party or a candidate
- APPEAL- GROUND(S) OF APPEAL – Whether where some grounds of appeal are of law and others are either of facts or mixed law and facts leave of Court must first be obtained to file an appeal and effect of failure thereof
- PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE- CONSISTENCY IN PRESENTATION OF A CASE – Whether a party can maintain on appeal, a case different from that which was presented at the lower Court
- ACTION- PLEADINGS – Whether parties are bound by their pleadings
- EVIDENCE- BURDEN OF PROOF/ONUS OF PROOF – Whether a party seeking declaratory reliefs must establish his entitlement to the reliefs upon the strength of his own case