ACN loses suit to overturn primary elections

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A suit filed by the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) seeking to invalidate the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 which prescribes primaries as mode of choosing standard-bearers in future general elections was thrown out of court yesterday.

Delivering judgement on the suit, Justice Okechukwu Okeke of the Federal High Court affirmed the constitutionality of Section 87 of the Electoral Act 2010 and upheld the powers of the National Assembly to legislate on how political parties should nominate candidates for elections, saying that the exercise of their regulatory powers as contained in Section 228 of the 1999 Constitution gave rise to the enactment of the Electoral Act.

Section 228 of the constitution lays down procedure for the conduct of primaries by political parties seeking to nominate candidates.

It therefore refused the plaintiff’s prayer seeking to invalidate Section 87 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended),

The ACN, represented by its National Legal Adviser, Dr. Muiz Banire, had sued the National Assembly and the Independent National Electoral Commission, seeking a declaration that the provisions of Section 87 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) were inconsistent with the provisions of Section 4 and 228 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

The party prayed the court to declare the section unconstitutional and void for mandating the manner of conducting primaries by political parties for elections into elective offices.

But INEC, in its counter affidavit, argued that the Section 87 applies political parties in Nigeria, to which the ACN could not be an exception.

It said the Act did not put the plaintiff in any position of disadvantage and was not in any way prejudicial to it.

“Section 87 of the Electoral Act 2010 has not infringed on the right of the plaintiff at all but is intended to make it abide by democratic tenets and principles of equality and fairness,” INEC had said.

The court refused the plaintiff’s prayers declaring that all the sections/provisions of the Electoral Act apply to all political parties in Nigeria equally and without any discrimination.

Okeke held that the conduct of elections into political offices was INEC’s exclusive duty and that “in doing so, there must be order”.

He added, “Section 87 is to ensure that there is a level-playing ground for all Nigerians. The target is not the plaintiff only.

“There is not merit in this application and it is hereby dismissed. There shall be no order as to cost.”

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