Renowned Rights Activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana, has said the reason the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) dragged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC); Accord; Social Democratic Party (SDP), Labour Party and 12 others to court is for them to be the sole contestant in all elections in Rivers State in 2023.
The PDP had dragged INEC, Accord, and 15 others before a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt over alleged non-compliance with the new electoral act during their just concluded party primaries.
The PDP is asking the court to compel INEC never to recognise candidates from their respective parties and others, especially those of the National Assembly for allegedly violating the new electoral act.
Presiding Judge, Justice Dalyop Pam, after hearing submissions from all parties involved, adjourned the matter till August 31 for a definite hearing.
Speaking outside the courtroom, Falana, who is the counsel for SDP, said he was going to join issues with the PDP, adding that the move was an attempt for the Applicant (PDP) to be the sole contestant in all elections in the state.
He said: “PDP sued the INEC, the SDP and 15 members of the SDP. The sole purpose of the case is an attempt by the PDP to be the sole contestant in all elections in Rivers State in 2023.
“The PDP is challenging the results of the primaries conducted by the SDP and I think the PDP is doing that to all the other political parties in the state, with a view not to have an election in this state for any positions.
“We have not filed our objections yet, what was taken this morning by the court was our application to enter an appearance with a view to defending the case and we are going to join issues with the PDP very seriously.”
Counsel for the second defendant, Accord, Abdullamid Mohammed (SAN) said they are challenging the locus of the suit, noting that a political party cannot challenge the activities of another that is guided by a different constitution and different rules.
He said, “We subsequently filed a motion to strike out the name of the Accord because it was sued as the Accord Party, that party does not exist in Nigeria. On one hand, we are asking the court to strike out Accord from the suit, we are challenging the jurisdiction of the suit as well on the other hand.”
However, Counsel for PDP, Dike Udenna, while explaining what transpired in court said: “The pre-elections matter came up this morning. The one in respect of Accord political party, the court was informed that they are disputing their own existence.
“They filed an application before the court to say their name is Accord Party, that there is no political party known as Accord Party. Therefore, the name of the Accord Party should be struck out of the case.
“We opposed it. We know them as Accord Party and all the papers from INEC bear Accord Party as their name. So, we are opposing them and have filed applications. They asked the court for an adjournment to enable them to respond to that counter affidavit that we filed. The matter has been adjourned till August 31 for a hearing of the substantive case.
“The one for SDP, Femi Falana SAN entered an appearance for the defendants and is still within the same time have just been served with the originating processes awhile, he still has about two days and he asked for an adjournment to enable him formally file his processes.
“The one for Labour Party, they still have about two days. So, it was also adjourned to August 31, to enable them file all their papers. The matters are now for hearing.”
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