The Federal High Court, Abuja, yesterday, dismissed the suit filed by Natasha Akpoti, the candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the last governorship election in Kogi State, against Governor Yahaya Bello, for lacking in locus standi.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, who delivered the judgment, held that the alleged offence was criminal and not a civil case, which could be instituted by an individual. The judge, therefore, declared that the plaintiff had no legal right to institute the case.
Justice Ekwo had, on Dec. 6, 2019, fixed yesterday to deliver a judgment in the suit, seeking Bello’s disqualification over alleged double registration as a voter.
The SDP’s candidate had, in suit number: FHC/ABJ/CS/1221/2019 filed by Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, on her behalf, sought the court’s determination on the eligibility of Bello, at the just-concluded election, having been allegedly involved in double registration as a voter.
But Bello had told the court that he was ready to defend himself on the allegation of double registration, framed against him by Akpoti.
While Akpoti was the plaintiff, the All Progressives Congress (APC), the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Bello; were 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants respectively.
Delivering his judgment, Justice Ekwo, who noted Akpoti’s prayers before the court, said that one of the issues raised in the 1st defendant’s application, was for the court to determine whether the plaintiff, who was not an aspirant in its primary election, had a locus standi to file the suit.
He said that the plaintiff relied on sections of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), as the basis of her locus standi to challenge Bello; as APC’s candidate for the poll, following his involvement in electoral fraud.
“In her argument, the plaintiff said that such a person is not a fit and proper person to be voted for, in any election, let alone for the highest office of a governor of a state,” the judge said. Justice Ekwo, however, held that the section cited does not deal with fraud matters. “The question now is whether the plaintiff locus standi to find a civil cause of action on Section 24(1)(e) of Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended). The answer is simply, no!
“It can be seen from the originating process that this suit is a civil action. It is not about the prosecution of the 3rd defendant for the allegation stated in Section 24(1)(e) of Electoral Act, 2010 or proving the case against him beyond reasonable doubt, as prescribed by the law. “It is clear from the originating processes that the plaintiff is not a prosecuting authority and the plaintiff not being a prosecuting authority had no exhibit or any fiat by any prosecution agency to engage in this act,” he held.