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Primary: Court Strikes Out Lagos PDP Reps Aspirant’s Suit

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A Lagos Federal High Court, today, struck out a suit filed by a People’s Democratic Party (PDP) aspirant to the Federal House of Representatives, Mrs. Emilia Ezeude, challenging the emergency of Mr. Chima Francis Batholowmen, as the candidate of the party, at the last party’s primary.

Justice Tijjani Garuba Ringim who presided over the court, struck out Ezeude’s suit, for lack of diligent prosecution.

Ezeude through her lawyer, Best Yusuf, had approached the court in an originating motion marked FHC/CS/1176/2022, wherein she listed the PDP, it’s national chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Barrister Rita Orji, as first to fourth defendants. 

However, the winner of the party’s primary election, Mr. Chima Francis Batholowmen, had approached the court in a motion on Notice for rejoinder, which was brought before the court pursuant Order 9 Rule 5; Order 14 Rule 2(b) of the courts rule and under the court’s inherent jurisdisction.

The claimant had asked the court for the following reliefs: “a declaration that the purported Primary: Re-run Election of the PDP for the House of Representatives, Ajeromi-Ifelodun Federal Constituency, held on the 6th of June 2022, which produced the 4th Defendant is a nullity for being inconclusive and for non-compliance with the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (as amended), the Electoral Act 2022, INEC’s Regulation for the conduct of political Party Primaries and the PDP Constitution. 

“A declaration that the claimant having been cleared to contest the primaries for the House of Representatives, Ajeromi-lfelodun Federal Constituency could not be substituted by the fourth defendant without regards to extant Laws for the conduct of party primaries. 

“An order directing the PDP and it’s chairman, to nominate her as the duly qualified candidate of the PDP to contest the 2023 election into the House of Representatives, Ajeromi-Ifelodun Federal Constituency having been cleared ta contest the Primaries ab initio.

“An order restraining the PDP and it’s chairman, from issuing the fourth defendant or any other person with a Certificate of Return or fielding the 4th Defendant or any other Person as a Candidate to contest the 2073 election into the House of Representatives, Ajeromi-lfelodun Federal  Constituency. 

“An order restraining the fourth defendant or any other person from parading herself/himself as the duly cleared candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) contest the 2023 election into the House of Representatives, Ajeromi-Ifelodun Federal Constituency. 

But the winner of the party’s primary, Mr. Chima Francis Batholowmen in a motion for joinder, filed by team of lawyers who include: Emeka Ozoani (SAN); Professor Joseph E. O. Abubu (SAN) Francis Okuji and two others, asked the court for an order directing the Plaintiff to amend the originating process to reflect his name as defendant in the suit. An an order deeming his Counter Affidavit to the Originating summons and his counsel’s Written Address thereon, as properly filed and served on the parties in the suit.

Francis in an affidavit attached with the suit stated that he is a member of the PDP in the Ajeromi/lfelodun Federal Constituency of Lagos State. And that upon his expression of interest to serve in the Federal House of Representatives, he duly purchased, filled and submitted the requite Expression of Interest Form as well as the Nomination Form issued by the PDP for the Ajeromi/Ifelodun Federal Constituency.

He also stated that he was duly screened by a Panel constituted by the PDP and issued a Certificate of Provisional Clearance to contest in the primaries of the party for the purpose of selecting the party’s candidate for the Ajeromi/Ifelodun Federal Constituency. 

He averred that the PDP scheduled three days; 22nd, 23rd and 24th day of May 2022 for the conduct of all its Primaries into the Federal Constituencies in Lagos State. The said Primaries were held across the Constituencies in either of the scheduled dates. Adding that the party’s primaries into the Ajeromi/Ifelodun Federal Constituency could not hold on May 22, 2022, as Party officials for the Constituency awaited signal permission from the National headquarters in Abuja. And that the primaries in Ajeromi/Ifelodun Federal Constituency was only held on May 23, 2022. 

He stated that the said Primaries election held on May 23, 2022, was duly attended by the 33 ad-hoc delegates selected from the 11 Wards in the Constituency as required by the Constitution of the PDP and the Electoral Guidelines of the Party, while one national delegate was absent. Adding that the said primaries election was supervised and closely monitored by the party’s National, State and Local Government officers and representatives of the Nigerian Police, Department of State Security and members of the Press. 

He stated that other aspirants whose names were in the Ballot were Dr. Oladipupc Diriwari, Hon. Rita Orji Odichi (fourth Defendant) and Mrs. Ezeude Emilia (the Plaintiff). And that upon the count of recorded votes, he won the election with 22 Votes a opposed to his three contenders who scored as follows: Dr. Diriwari (3 votes Hon. Rita Orji (4 votes) and Mrs, Ezeude (3 votes). Whilst one (1) vote wa voided. 

He stated that he was duly declared the winner of the Primaries held on May 23, 2022 by the national officers of the PDP with the attestation of the PDP’s chairman officers at the State and Local Government Area levels. Adding that sequel to my victory, the result of the primaries with my name as duly elected candidate was forwarded by the PDP to the party chairman. | 

He stated that the only valid and subsisting primaries of the party in Ajeromi/Ifelodun Federal Constituency is the one held on May 23, 2022,  whereat I won with an overwhelming majority, hence the 1st and 2nd Defendant duly accept that I am the candidate elected to contest the federal elections in 2023 from the Ajeromi/Ifelodun Federal Constituency. And that he have been duly issued a Certificate of Return declaring him, as the flag bearer of the PDP in the 2023 General elections for Ajeromi/Ifelodun Federal Constituency of Lagos. 

He stated that the Plaintiffs’ Originating summons is vexatious and is designed to truncate his electoral victory as well as deny the PDP opportunity of fielding a candidate for the Constituency in the forthcoming federal elections in 2023. And that it will be in the interest of justice that he be joined to properly repudiate the plaintiff’s claims in this suit. 

Meanwhile, at the resumed hearing of the suit today, neither the plaintiff nor his counsel were in court.

Following the absence of the plaintiff in court, Francis’ lawyer, told the court that both the plaintiff and his lawyer were in court when today was given for the hearing of the suit.

The counsel therefore urged the court to dismiss the Plaintiffs’ suit for lack of of diligent prosecution.

Acceding to Francis’ counsel request, Justice Ringim, after citing plethoras of authorites, struck out the plaintiff’s suit for lack of diligent prosecution.

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