By; KENNETH ORUSI, Asaba
The Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, has on Wednesday declined to entertain the application brought by Senator Peter Nwaoboshi for an order restraining the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from issuing certificate of return to Prince Ned Nwoko in respect of Delta North senatorial district.
On April 3, 2019 Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court, Abuja delivered a landmark judgment that has continued to resonate across the land. The ruling was to the effect that Senator Peter Nwaoboshi was not the winner of the Peoples Democratic Party [PDP] primary held on October 2, 2018, conducted to nominate its senatorial candidate for Delta North district in the 2019 general election.
The judge ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to publish the name of Prince Ned Nwoko as the rightful candidate of the PDP, having established the fact before the court that Nwoko scored a majority of the lawful votes in the primary. He also ordered Senator Nwaoboshi to stop parading himself as the candidate of the PDP for the Delta North senatorial district.
Nwoko through his counsel Ahmed Raji (SAN), had dragged INEC, PDP and Nwaoboshi before the court praying for an order to stop INEC from publishing or further publishing the name of Nwaoboshi as the candidate for Delta North senatorial district. Nwoko also asked for another order compelling the PDP to forward his name to INEC as the authentic candidate of the party for the senatorial district in the 2019 general election.
Nwoko who predicated his suit on seven grounds, which were supported by 20-paragraph affidavit evidence and five exhibits, averred that he was screened and cleared for the Delta North senatorial district by the PDP Electoral Committee.
He declared among other things, that at the end of the primary election, he scored 453 votes to defeat his closest rival, Nwaoboshi who scored 405 while Paul Osaji came third with 216 votes.
Nwoko, however, maintained that to his surprise, the PDP jettisoned the result of the primary election and forwarded Nwaoboshi’s name as its candidate for the senatorial district. He stated that all efforts to redress the injustice through the party’s appeal panel were frustrated and thus unsuccessful.
The judgment has been attracting varied responses with many holding the view that the outcome of the case would take the nation’s jurisprudence on electoral matters a notch higher. One key aspect of the judgment that has generated interest is the fact that it beamed searchlight on the way and manner political parties conduct their primary contests to nominate candidates for elections.
Justice Mohammed ruled that since defendants in the suit had appealed the subsisting case, he would transfer the motion together with the entire case file to the appellate court.
“This court has no further jurisdiction on the matter…In view of this, the first defendant’s (Nwaoboshi’s) motion filed before this court (for stay of execution) is hereby transmitted to the Court of Appeal”.
Judicial analysts viewed the ruling as a setback for embattled Senator Nwaoboshi who had hoped to secure a restraining order stopping INEC from issuing certificate of return to Prince Ned Nwoko.