From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
An aspirant for the All Progressives Congress (APC) for Cross River Central Senatorial seat Bar Mary Ekpere-Eta has asked the Abuja division of the Federal High Court to invalidate the declaration of Etteng Jonah Williams as the party’s candidate for Cross River Central Senatorial seat.
Meantime, she has commended the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho, for setting up a special task force to dispense with all pending pre-election matters within the statutory 180 days.
Epere- Eta who expressed optimism of securing the APC slot for the 2023 general elections said she has full confidence in the nation’s judiciary.
According to her, ”we were just informed that the matter cannot go on as the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court had in his wisdom assigned all pre-election matters to a special taskforce, it is not just my matter but all pre-election matters in the Federal High Court in Abuja. Looking at the 180 days stately days for the hearing and determination of pre-election matters.
“I have confidence that I will win, that I will get justice, that is why I came to court and as a lawyer I know how the system works, I am not seeing any foul play bearing in mind the administrative bottlenecks. I know I will get justice. Like we were told we will get accelerated hearing, I believe that is why the Chief Judge assigned all pre-election matters to the special taskforce, we are sure that the matter will be expeditiously dispensed with”Ekpere-Eta declared.
Specifically, Ekpere-Eta had through her Counsel Bankole Akomolafe had gone to the Federal High Court to determine whether or not by virtue of Section 222(2) and Section 228(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999(as amended) the Electoral Act Act, 2022 and the Constitution of registered political parties in their activities and conducts respectively.
Whether or not by the combined reading of section 228(B) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as (amended) Sections 29, 84 & 85 of the Electoral Act, 2022 and Articles 9.1, 9.2, 9.3, 12.13 & 20.4(ii) (c) of the Constitution of the APC, the Indirect Primary Election conducted on the May 28th, 2022 to nominate the candidate of the APC, for the Cross River State Central Senatorial District in respect of the 2023 General Election without the aspirants sighting any delegates list or register, and the venue of the election changed without notification to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) cited as 3rd defendant in the suit and the plaintiff and without allowing delegates from the Local Government Area and Area Council Congress of Abi, Yakurr, Obiora, Ikom, Etung and Biko which constitute the six (6) Local Governments of the Central Senatorial District of Cross River to vote is valid and lawful.
Whether or not by the combined effect of Section 65(2)(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and Article 9.1 & 9.3 of the APC the 1st and 2nd defendants (Etteng Jonah Williams and APC) are eligible and posses the right to vote or be voted for in the primary election of Cross River Central Senatorial District of the 2nd defendant which was conducted of the 28th May, 2022.
And whether or not pursuant to Section 61(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999(as amended), Sections 29(1-6) and 84(12),(13) & (14) of the Electoral Act 2022, the 1st and 4th defendants have been in infraction of the Constitutional requirements of eligibility to contest the primary election to warrant the plaintiff who had the best highest vote after the the said 1st and 4th defendants in the primary election of the APC for the Cross River Central Senatorial District in respect of the 2023 general elections to be declared the winner of the election in the circumstances.
Ekpere-Eta is asking the court for a declaration that the 1st and 4th defendants who came first and second in the primary election of the Cross River Central Senatorial Distric which was conducted in May 28th,2022 to elect the candidate of the APC in respect of the 2023 were in breach of Sections 61(I)(f) & 65(2)(b) respectively of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,1999(as amended) at the time of the said primary election.
An order directing the 3rd defendant (INEC) to remove the name of the 1st defendant as the candidate of the APC in the general election from its record and replace and/or substitute same with the name of the plaintiff forthwith.
In the alternative, she asked court to declare that the primary election of the Cross River Central Senatorial District of the APC conducted on May 28th,2022 is null, void and invalid having not been conducted with the extant provisions of the Electoral Act, 2033 and the Constitution of the Party.
An order disqualifying the 1st and 4th defendants from participating from in the fresh election to be conducted by the APC for reasons of their infractions of Sections 61(1)(f)65(2)(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) respectively having been disqualified to contest ab initial.
She is also asking for N25milliin against the 1st defendant as the damages and cost of action.
Cited in the suit as the 1st to the 4th defendants are RT. Hon. Etteng Jonah Williams, The APC, INEC and Chief Akimwumi Anderson Ricketts respectively.