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MR. OZEGBE LAWRENCE v. PEOPLES DEMOCRATIC PARTY (PDP) & ORS

(2017) LPELR-42610(SC)

In The Supreme Court of Nigeria

On Wednesday, the 12th day of July, 2017

SC.81/2017


Before Their Lordships

WALTER SAMUEL NKANU ONNOGHEN Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

CLARA BATA OGUNBIYI Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

KUMAI BAYANG AKA'AHS Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

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

CHIMA CENTUS NWEZE Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria


Between

MR. OZEGBE LAWRENCE - Appellant(s)

AND

1. PEOPLES DEMOCRATIC PARTY (PDP)
2. HON. FRIDAY OSANEBI
3. INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION (INEC) - Respondent(s)


Summary

INTRODUCTION:
This appeal borders on electoral matters.

FACTS:
The appellant as Claimant sued Hon. Friday Osanebi and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) (now 2nd and 1st respondents respectively) in the Delta State High Court, Asaba seeking for:-
"(a) A declaration that the affidavit and documents submitted to the 3rd defendant by the 1st defendant in his nomination as the candidate of the 2nd defendant as the candidate of the Ndokwa East Constituency for the election into the 2015 general elections into the Delta State House of Assembly contain several falsehood (sic) and that the 1st defendant is therefore not qualified to contest the said election.
(b) An order of the honourable Court disqualifying the 1st defendant from contesting the 2015 general election into the State House of Assembly as a candidate of the 2nd defendant for the Ndokwa East State Constituency or for any other constituency.
(c) An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 3rd defendant from accepting the 1st defendant for Ndokwa East State Constituency for the 2015 general election into the Delta State Constituency or for any other constituency."

Both 1st and 2nd respondents filed preliminary objections to the claimant's suit. The trial Court heard the two separate applications and delivered its ruling in respect of the 2nd application on 14/12/2015 and struck out the suit on the ground that the claimant has no locus standi to institute the suit.

The claimant felt aggrieved and appealed against the said ruling while the 1st defendant (now 2nd respondent) filed a notice of cross-appeal. The Court of Appeal upheld the order striking out the suit for lack of jurisdiction and dismissed the appeal. This prompted the further appeal to the Supreme Court. The appellant cross-appealed against a decision in his favour.

ISSUES:
The appellant submitted four issues for determination which were distilled from the five grounds of appeal which accompanied the notice of appeal. The issues are-:
"3.01 Whether the decision in APGA v. Senator Anyanwu & Ors (2014) 7 NWLR (Pt.1407) 541 was that a member of a political party does not have the locus standi to challenge any false declaration by a candidate of his political party under S. 31(5) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) Grounds 1 and 3.
3.02 Whether the lower Court was not bound by the pleadings of the parties. Ground 2.
3.03 Whether a member of a political party is excluded or barred under S.31(5)of the Electoral Act (as amended)from bringing a suit against a candidate of his political party upon a reasonable ground that such candidate has given false information in his affidavit or documents to the electoral body. Ground 4.
3.04 Whether the lower Court was right in holding that the failure of the trial Court to deliver a ruling in respect of the 2nd respondent's motion challenging the competence of the appellant's suit did not breach the appellant's right to fair hearing Ground 5."

DECISION/HELD:
On the whole, the Court held that the has merit and it was allowed. The case was remitted to the High Court of Delta State, Asaba to be dealt with expeditiously.


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