Court upholds Ben Ayade as APC senatorial race in Cross River
The Federal High Court, Abuja, presided by Justice Nkeonye Evelyn Maha, in a judgement on Wednesday dismissed the suit challenging the All Progressives Congress (APC) senatorial candidacy of Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State for the Cross River North Senatorial District in the 2023 General elections. Justice Nkeonye Evelyn Maha in a judgement on the suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/1232/2022, filed by Cecilia Omonya Adams, upheld the nomination of Ayade as the authentic APC senatorial candidate in the district.
Counsel to Ayade, Mike Ozekhome, SAN, had argued that MRS CECILIA OMONYA ADAMS who had participated in the May 28 APC primaries, but did not participate in the APC primaries of 14th July, 2022, for the Cross River North Senatorial District towards the 2023 General Elections, has no locus standi to approach the court to challenge the candidacy of Governor Ben Ayade who was duly nominated by his party during the July 14, 2022 primaries.
The Plaintiff had through an Originating Summons filed on 26th July, 2022, approached the Federal High Court, Abuja, praying amongst other, for “AN ORDER directing the INEC to recognize, accept and publish her name as the candidate of the APC for the Cross River North Senatorial District.”
She sought in the ALTERNATIVE, for “AN ORDER directing the APC to conduct another primaries where only those who had bought forms to contest the primaries of 28th May, 2022, will participate; or that the Plaintiff be confirmed and returned as the candidate of the APC for the said election.”
Justice Maha in her judgment delivered on Wednesday, dismissed the Suit, conceding to the submissions of Ozekhome, SAN, that MRS ADAMS lacked the locus standi to have instituted the suit against Governor Ayade having not participated in the APC primaries of 14th July, 2022, from which Governor Ayade was duly elected as the APC candidate for the Cross River North Senatorial District. The court held that Mrs ADAMS failed to establish or prove that Ayade was not properly nominated by his party; or that any of the provisions of the 1999 Constitution, the Electoral Act, INEC Guidelines, or the Constitution of APC, had in any way been breached by the APC or Ayade in his emergence as the APC Senatorial candidate.
Justice Maha also refused to accept the argument of the plaintiff that the fresh primaries thus held were re-run elections, rather than by-elections.
The court also held that even on the issue of “place holder” which the plaintiff harped on, the Electoral Act was silent on it as it has no provision pertaining to place holder. The court equally held that there was ample documentary evidence of the conduct of valid primaries in which Ayade who was the duly nominated candidate of the APC, solely participated and won, without evidence of the plaintiff participating in them. There was equally documentary evidence that the APC duly notified INEC of the primaries conducted on the 14th of July, 2022; and that the requirement of giving notice as contemplated under the Electoral Act is not to notify the plaintiff (Cecilia), but INEC.