A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has nullified the All Progressive Congress (APC) ward and local government congresses held across Kogi state on February 7.
The congresses were held to elect delegates that would vote at a convention to nominate a governorship candidate for the party.
Kogi State will go to the polls in November to elect a governor.
But Justice James Omotosho threw a spanner in the works for the party when he delivered a judgement in a suit challenging the ward and LG congresses. Voiding the congresses, Justice Omotosho held that they were not conducted in compliance with the Electoral Act 2022 and the constitution of the APC.
Justice Omotosho, in the Judgment in a suit instituted by a group of aggrieved APC members led by one Rilwan Okpanachi, barred the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, from according recognition or using the unlawful delegates list that emanated from unlawful congresses for the party for the purpose of selecting its governorship flag-bearer.
The court, however, ordered the APC leadership to conduct fresh congresses that would be in compliance with section 84 of the electoral act, 2022 and section 13 of the party’s constitution.
Among others, the Judge agreed with the counsel for the plaintiffs, Ogwu Onoja, SAN, that APC breached section 84 of the electoral act and section 13 of its own constitution by concocting a purported list of delegates and submitting same to INEC without the knowledge of registered members of the party in the state.
The Judge held that during the trial of the case, the APC failed to disclose the venues and time where the purported ward and local government congresses were held and also failed to show the report of INEC officials that purportedly monitored the elections.
Besides, the Judge noted that the major document put at the court’s disposal to Justify the conduct of the purported February 7 congresses did not contain a single name of any individual but signatures of imaginary participants at the purported congresses.
The court, therefore, ordered APC to conduct special ward and local government congresses in line with the provisions of the relevant laws, especially section 84 of the electoral act and section 13 of the APC’s constitution.
The preliminary Objections raised by APC that the court has no Jurisdiction to institute the case and the plaintiffs have no locus standi was also dismissed by the Judge.
The Judge also dismissed the claims of the APC that the plaintiffs are not Its members but parading old membership cards, adding that the party ought to have made its membership register available to the court to dispute the membership claim of the plaintiffs.
Plaintiffs in the suit are Realwan Okpanachi, Yahaya Saidu Nuhu, Omaonu Clement Arome, Mustapha Ibrahim Idoko, Aku Umar Goodman and Abu Steven Okpanachi Onechiojo, while the two defendants are APC and INEC.