THE SUPREME COURT ONCE AGAIN SAYS PARTY PRIMARIES ARE INTERNAL AND DOMESTIC AFFAIRS OF A POLITICAL PARTY.
The Supreme Court on Friday 15th day of January, 2016 dismissed the appeal by Prince Tarzoor of PDP who had argued that Gov. Samuel Ortom of APC was not validly nominated and sponsored by APC and so he was not qualified to participate in the last general elections.
Justice Sylvester Ngwata held inter-alia that “to determine whether a person is qualified/disqualified to contest an election in terms of section 138(1)(a) of the Electoral Act resort must be had to sections 177 and 182 of the 1999 constitution. While section 177 of the Constitution settles issue of qualification, section 182 deals with disqualification.
Section 177 states the qualification for contesting in a governorship election while section 138(1)(a) of the Electoral Act means that a person who has not certified all conditions specified in sections 177 and 182(1) of the Constitution at the time of the election is not qualified to contest the election.
The next question is that of the Locus Standi of the Appellant to impugn the exercise of primary election in a party other than his own, especially as he could not have participated in a primary election he complained about.
Primary elections are in-house matter of a political party. A non member of the party has no locus standi to raise the issue and no member of the party who was NOT an ASPIRANT can raise the issue. See section 87(9)(a) of the Electoral Act.
The proper court to challenge party primaries is a Federal high High Court or High Court of the FCT. As I said earlier, the Appellant is a member of PDP, not APC and even if he is a member of APC, he would have no locus to challenge the nomination of Gov. Ortom as he is not one of the ASPIRANTS who participated in the primary election.
“In my view, the Appellant is a middlesome interloper, who having assumed the role of a hired morner is crying more than the bereaved”, Justice Walter Onnoghen also added inter-alia”. It has been held in a plethora of cases that nomination of a candidate of a political party for an election is the internal affairs of the political parties over which the courts have no jurisdiction. ”
The Supreme Court relied on several cases such as Onuaha Vs. Okafor, Uzodinma Vs Osita, Daniel Vs. INEC and most recently the Zamfara governorship case of Shinkafi vs.Yari.
The Supreme Court admonished parties not to waste resources and the precious time of the court in pursuing party primaries in the Tribunal because it is all wasted effort. However, parties should be bold to cultivate the spirit of sportsmanship and accept defeat.
Senator Aisha and APC are still challenging the valid nomination and sponsorship of Gov. Darius Ishaku by PDP.
Interestingly, Sen. Aisha’s Lawyers are the same Lawyers who argued in the Zamfara case and Benue case and got judgments in the Supreme Court that the PDP candidate has no locus standi to challenge the nomination and sponsorship of APC candidate since party primaries are internal affairs of a political party. It’s beats my imagination to see same set of Lawyers arguing the exact opposite that APC candidate can challenge the party primaries of PDP.
The million Dollar questions in light of the decided cases by the supreme court and the Electoral Act are:
- Does Senator Aisha and APC have the locus standi to challenge the primaries of PDP that produced Gov. Darius Ishaku as the party flag bearer?
- Is Sen. Aisha a member of PDP?
- Was Sen. Aisha an ASPIRANT in the PDP primaries that produced Gov. Darius Ishaku as flag bearer?
- Is party primaries no longer internal or domestic affairs of the party?
5 Does the election petition tribunal in the light of section 87 of the Electoral Act and decided cases have the jurisdiction to look into the party primaries?
6 Can the settled position of the law change in Taraba Case?
These and many more are questions that the Supreme Court will answer and bring an end to litigation in Taraba State the way it did in Zamfara and Benue States. God bless Taraba State and Nigeria.
Nierus Johnson Esq.