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PEOPLES DEMOCRATIC PARTY v. HON. (DR) HARRY N. ORANEZI & ORS

(2017) LPELR-43471(SC)

In The Supreme Court of Nigeria

On Friday, the 15th day of December, 2017

SC.581/2016


Before Their Lordships

MUSA DATTIJO MUHAMMAD Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

KUDIRAT MOTONMORI OLATOKUNBO KEKERE-EKUN Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

JOHN INYANG OKORO Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

CHIMA CENTUS NWEZE Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

EJEMBI EKO Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria


Between

PEOPLES DEMOCRATIC PARTY - Appellant(s)

AND

1. HON. (DR) HARRY N. ORANEZI
2. ALHAJI ADAMU MUA'ZU
(NATIONAL CHAIRMAN OF PEOPLES DEMOCRATIC PARTY AND CHAIRMAN OF NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
AND NATIONAL WORKING COMMITTEE OF PEOPLES DEMOCRATIC PARTY)
3. PROF. WALE OLADIPO
(NATIONAL SECRETARY OF PEOPLES DEMOCRATIC PARTY)
4. HON. CHRIS AZUBUOGU
5. HON. JULIUS OFFORMAH
6. INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION (INEC) - Respondent(s)


Other Citations

; ;


Summary

INTRODUCTION:
This appeal borders on Electoral Matters.

FACTS:
This appeal arose from the decision of the Court of Appeal, Enugu Division where it was held that the trial Court erred when it declined to entertain the 1st respondent's claim on the ground that the dispute was an intra-party dispute concerning the sponsorship of a candidate for an election by a political party and that the Court has no business deciding which candidate a party should sponsor.

The 1st respondent, Hon. Dr. Harry Oranezi, as plaintiff at the Federal High Court sitting at Awka initiated suit No. FHC/AWK/CS/24/2015 against the appellant herein now the 4th respondent and the remaining respondent. He contended by his writ that having scored the highest votes in the appellant's primary election of 7th December, 2014 for the party's candidate in the 14th February, 2015 general election in respect of the Nnewi North/South/Ekwusigu Federal House of Representatives Constituency, it is unlawful for the party to substitute him with and submit the 4th respondent's name as that of its candidate in the general election. The Substitution being in breach of the Constitution and the Electoral Guidelines of the Appellant, the plaintiff pursuant to Section 87(a) (c) and (9) of the Electoral Act (as amended) sought that much declaratory and injunctive reliefs from the Federal High Court to restore him to being the appellant's rightful candidate in the 14th February, 2015 general election for the Nnewi North/South/Ekwusigo Federal Constituency.

The defendants to the action challenged the competence of 1st respondent's suit and urged the Federal High Court to dismiss it in limine. In its ruling of 19th March, 2015, the Federal High Court sustained the objection of the defendants, declined jurisdiction and struck out 1st respondent's suit.

Dissatisfied, the 1st respondent appealed to the Court of Appeal which, in upholding the appeal and setting aside the Federal High Court's ruling, remitted the suit to the trial Court for same to be heard and determined by a judge other than M.L. Abubakar J. Similarly aggrieved, the appellant appealed to the Supreme Court.

ISSUES:
The apex Court determined the appeal on the lone issue as follows:
"Whether the Court of Appeal was right to have held that the Federal High Court was seized jurisdiction to entertain the suit filed by the 1st respondent as plaintiff."

DECISION/HELD:
On the whole, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal for lacking in merit.


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