From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has dismissed a suit filed by Mr Kenneth Udeze, the sacked national chairman of Action Alliance (AA), against Sen. Rabiu Kwankwaso, the presidential candidate of New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), and others.
Justice Emeka Nwite, in a judgment, held that Udeze, who was no longer a member of the party going by the evidence before him, lacked locus standi to institute the suit in the name of the party.
Udeze had, in the name of the party, filed the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1154/22 to challenge the listing of Mr Kwankwaso and Bishop Isaac Idahosa as presidential and vice presidential candidates of NNPP by INEC.
While AA was the plaintiff, INEC, NNPP, Kwankwaso and Idahosa were 1st to 4th defendants respectively.
Udeze had prayed the court to declare that INEC lacked the lawful power to list Kwankwaso and Idahosa as NNPP presidential and vice presidential candidates for the 2023 general elections having ascertained that NNPP did not submit their names to the electoral umpire at the date of close of nomination specified by the Electoral Act, 2022, among other reliefs sought.
But the National Chairman of AA, Dr Adekunle Omo-Aje, and his National Secretary, Suleiman Abdulrasheed, had filed a motion for joinder, telling the court that they were necessary and interested parties in the suit.
Justice Nwite, in a ruling, had ordered the plaintiff to amend the originating summons and joined Omo-Aje and Abdulrasheed as 5th and 6th defendants respectively.
In their preliminary objection to the amended originating summons, Omo-Aje and Abdulrasheed, through their lawyer Oba Maduabuchi, SAN, said that the action purported to have been commenced by AA, did not emanate from them.
They argued that by the constitution of AA, only the national legal adviser on the instructions of the national chairman could institute an action for the party.
According to them, neither the national chairman nor the national legal adviser instructed that this suit be instituted.
They said that Udeze, who filed the suit in the name of the party, was no longer a member of the party after his suspension and subsequent expulsion from AA.
They cited a number of court orders, including Court of Appeal judgment, to back their arguments.
They said that the judgement had neither been appealed nor set aside by a court of competent jurisdiction.
But Udeze, through his lawyer, argued that the court lacked jurisdiction to make an order on the leadership tussle of the party, among others.
Delivering his judgement on Wednesday, Justice Nwite said that the 1st to 4th defendants did not file any process, hence, they did not have any defence in the suit.
The judge, however, said that Omo-Aje and Abdulrasheed (5th and 6th defendants), who filed application, asked the court to strike out the suit for being incompetent.
“They said the suit is not competent because it was not authorised by appropriate authority.
“That the people who initiated the action did not have the right to initiate the action.
“That the suit was not directed by the national chairman of the party that whoever that did that was a meddlesome interloper, asking the court to strike it out,” he said.
He said that they argued that those who initiated the suit were not executive members of AA, hence, they lacked locus.
The judge, who said that the issue of jurisdiction is important and must be decided first, said a case is competent when it is properly instituted, its subject matter is within the court jurisdiction and comes through due process of law.
“There is no gainsaying that the initiator of this suit has no locus standi to initiate this suit
“Where the plaintiff lacks locus standi to institute an action, the court lacks jurisdiction to consider the suit on its merit.
“In view of this, I am of the view that this suit is incompetent and therefore struck out,” he declared.