Whether the only Valid Political Primary Is that which Is Conducted by the National Executive Committee of a Party590 views
CASE TITLE: MUHAMMAD v. PDP & ORS (2022) LPELR-58984(CA)
JUDGMENT DATE: 28TH NOVEMBER, 2022
PRACTICE AREA: ELECTORAL MATTERS
LEAD JUDGMENT: ITA GEORGE MBABA, J.C.A.
SUMMARY OF JUDGMENT:
This appeal borders on the conduct of a primary election.
This appeal emanated from the Federal High Court.
The gravamen of the Appellant’s contention at the trial is that he is a card-carrying member of the 1st Respondent; that he indicated interest to contest, and contested for the position of flagbearer of the 1st Respondent for the office of House of Representative, representing the Hadejia/Auyo/Kafin Hausa Federal Constituency in Jigawa State, in the forthcoming, 2023 general election; that he (Appellant) and the 3rd Respondent participated in the said primary election conducted on 22nd May, 2022; that in compliance with the Electoral Act, 2022, the 2nd Respondent (INEC), supervised the said primary election; that he (Appellant) was declared the winner of the primary election, with 55 Votes, as against the 44 Votes scored by the 3rd Respondent; that the result was declared, but the necessary forms to that effect were not filled by the 1st Respondent (Political Party), to give effect to the declaration.
Appellant said the 2nd Respondent (INEC), on its part, issued a comprehensive report and attached all the necessary forms, to prove that, indeed, it was the Appellant that won the Primary Election of 22/5/2022. Appellant also said that the 1st, 3rd and 4th Respondents had said that the officers appointed by the National Working Committee of the 1st Respondent, conducted the primary election, much later in the day, in the absence of officers of the 2nd Respondent, and that the election was contested by 3 candidates, as opposed to the one, won by the Appellant. Thus, the 1st, 3rd and 4th Respondents were putting up a case of a parallel primary election. The appellant sought the trial Court to determine which of the two primary elections complied with the provisions of the law and should be recognized.
The 2nd Respondent (INEC) had filed Counter affidavit, to confirm the claims of the Appellant and had identified Exhibits D, D1, D2, and D3 as having been issued by INEC. Thus, the 2nd Respondent recognized the election of the Appellant.
After hearing the case and considering the evidence adduced and the addresses of Counsel, the trial Court held against the Appellant.
Aggrieved with that decision, the appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal.
ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION:
The Court of Appeal determined the appeal based on the following issues:
(1) Whether in the light of the evidence before the lower Court, including Exhibits D, D1, D2 and the testimony of the DW3 (INEC), the trial Court was right to dismiss the Appellant’s claim, that it won the primary election conducted by 1st Respondent on 22/5/2022?
(2) Whether, after dismissing the case of the Appellant and holding that the 3rd Respondent was not validly elected as the flag bearer of the 1st Respondent, the trial Court was right to Order fresh primaries to select the candidate of 1st Respondent, within 14 days?
The cross-appeal was determined on the following issues:
(1) Whether the learned trial Judge was right when he dismissed the preliminary objection of the Cross-Appellants.
(2) Whether the learned trial Judge was right when he cancelled and annulled the 1st Cross Appellant’s primary election that produced the 3rd Cross-Appellant as their party’s candidate for Hadejia/Auyo/Kafin/Hausa Federal Constituency in the forthcoming 2023 General Election.
The appeal succeeded in part while the cross-appeal was dismissed.
- ELECTORAL MATTERS – INTRA-PARTY DISPUTE(S): Circumstance(s) where the need to explore and exhaust all the available disputes resolution mechanisms of a political party before resorting to Court action will not be applicable
- ELECTORAL MATTERS – POLITICAL PARTY PRIMARY: Whether a political party can be allowed to conduct fresh primary elections where it fails to conduct its primary elections within the time stipulated for the conduct of same due to intra-party dispute
- ELECTORAL MATTERS – POLITICAL PARTY PRIMARY: Effect of failure to comply with Section 84 (1) of the Electoral Act, 2022 in the conduct of political party primary
- ELECTORAL MATTERS – POLITICAL PARTY PRIMARY: Whether the only valid political party primary is that which is conducted by the National Executive Committee of a party
- EVIDENCE – ORAL/DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE: Whether oral evidence can be allowed to discredit or contradict a documentary evidence