The Labour Party (LP) has appealed the judgment of the Federal High Court sitting in Kano, presided over by Justice M N Yunusa, which declared all the votes cast for the party’s candidates in Kano, Abia, and the rest of Nigeria as wasted votes.
Recall that the court had ruled that the process leading to the selection of Abia State Governor-elect Alex Otti and other party candidates was not in line with the requirements in the 2022 electoral act.
In the suit No FHC/KN/CS/107/2023, brought forth by Mr. Ibrahim Haruna Ibrahim against the Labour Party and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the court ruled the Labour Party’s failure to submit its membership register to INEC at least 30 days before their primaries invalidated the selection process.
The applicant had also urged the high court to set aside the Certificate of Return issued to all LP candidates and direct INEC to return the first runner-up in all places LP won.
“The party that has not complied with the provisions of the electoral act cannot be said to have a candidate in an election and cannot be declared winner of an election; this being so, the votes credited to the 1st defendant is a wasted vote,” the Judge ruled but declined to order the issuance of Certificate of Return to anyone in Abia state adding that “the parties that participated in Abia state are not parties before this court.”
But in an appeal entered by LP counsel Umeh Kalu SAN on May 22, the appellant urged the court to set aside the trial court’s judgment.
Listing the grounds of his appeal, Kalu held that “the trial court erred in law and occasioned a miscarriage of justice when it entertained the suit, which was bereft of any course of action.”
Kalu argued that Section 285 of the 1999 Constitution vested exclusive jurisdiction on Election Tribunals to entertain complaints on the participation of candidates and votes garnered by candidates at the general election.
He further contended that the 1999 Constitution limited the time to challenge a political party primarily to 14 days after the outcome had been declared.