A Federal High Court in Abuja has struck out the case filed by the gubernatorial candidate of the Labour Party, LP in the 2019 Nasarawa State governorship poll, Mr Umar Angibi.
Mr. Angibi filed the suit challenging the exclusion of the logo of his party from the ballot papers for the 2019 Nasarawa governorship poll by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and his party, which he said effectively denied him his rights to be voted for.
Delivering the judgment, Justice Nkeonye Maha, who said the case was already “statute barred,” said it was dead on arrival.
In his suit, the applicant, Mr. Angibi represented by his counsel, Joshua Barau, had told Justice Maha that INEC and the Labor Party failed to comply with the Electoral Act during the governorship poll in the state.
“The election was conducted by the 1st respondent without including the plaintiff/applicant’s name and party’s logo.
“This matter was filed since March 7. It is important that this court abridge the time within which the respondents may file their defence so that the matter can be heard and disposed of within the time left,” the lawyer said.
Mr. Barau prayed the court to either set aside the election and give an order for a fresh governorship election to be conducted in the state or for the two defendants (INEC and Labor Party) to pay the sum of N850 million compensation to the applicant.
However, Counsel to the 1st Defendant, INEC Ibrahim Mohammed, relied on Section 285, Subsection 9 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which says “the matter being a pre-election matter ought to have been brought before the court within 14 days after the course of the action arose,” he said.
Ibrahim Mohammed argued that even though the plaintiff got to know about the INEC’s publication of names of governorship candidates in November 2018, the suit was only filed in March this year.
“It is already statute barred. The law set out grounds on which petitions can be brought to court.
“I therefore urge Your Lordship to strike out this case for lack of jurisdiction in order not to waste his time and the time of the court,” Mohammed said.
On his part, Counsel to the Labor Party, Mr. Kehinde Edun, said the plaintiff had no evidence to present before the court.
According to him, the originating summon has no affidavit in support.
Citing a previous case between the House of Representatives and the Shell Petroleum Development Company of 2010, Mr. Edun argued that what stood as the plaintiff’s amendment in his motion could no longer hold since the originating summon was now immaterial.
“The originating summon is not accompanied by affidavit and this is against the rule of this honorable court” he said.
Mr. Kehinde Edun submitted that a 13-paragraph counter-affidavit was filed in support of his argument and also urged the judge to strike out the case.
“And should the court want to accommodate the plaintiff’s originating summon, we rely on our party’s guidelines for the election and a written of address as the plaintiff did not comply with our electoral guidelines,” he said.
He said Mr. Umar Angibi did not qualify to participate in the Labor Party’s governorship primaries for the 2019 gubernatorial elections in Nasarawa State as he never met the requirements.
Delivering the judgment at about 6pm, Justice Maha, noted that the matter was transferred from the Lafia Division of the court to Abuja Division about seven days ago.
The judge also noted that the plaintiff did not filed an affidavit to the originating summon and also agreed with the counsel to INEC that since the plaintiff had failed to file the case within 14 days as stipulated by law, and therefore the proceeding cannot be properly instituted after the expiration of the time.
According to the judge, the case is therefore dead on arrival; the originating summon is statute barred, unconstitutional and cannot be decided by this court.
“I have no jurisdiction to entertain the case being a pre-election matter,” she said.
Justice Maha, thereby, struck out the case.
Reacting in an interview with NAN, Mr. Umar Angibi said he would rely on his lawyer’s interpretation of the court’s judgment before deciding on the next line of action.