The Supreme Court, yesterday, dismissed an appeal that sought to void the primary election of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, that gave Governor Godswill Akpabio the ticket to seek for a re-run in 2011.
A five-man panel of Justices of the apex court led by Justice Suleiman Galadima threw-out the matter after it compelled the appellant, Hon. Imo Edet Udo to withdraw the appeal which it said has turned academic.
The appellant had gone before the court to challenge the judgement of the Calabar Division of the Court of Appeal, which had on December 9, 2013, upheld Akpabio’s nomination as the gubernatorial flag-bearer of the PDP in Akwa Ibom state.
The appellant, Hon. Udo who was also a governorship aspirant of the PDP in the state, insisted that Akpabio was not eligible to contest the April 2011 gubernatorial election having failed to attach his tax clearance certificate as prescribed by the law.
Udo alleged that though he participated in the said PDP primary election which was held on January 15, 2011, he told the court that the exercise was skewed to favour Akpabio who he said was not even screened like all the other aspirants.
Meantime, though the appeal was entered before the apex court on January 24, 2014, it was not okayed for hearing until December 17 last year when it was adjourned till yesterday.
At the resumed sitting yesterday, immediately the matter was called up, the panel drew the attention of counsel to the appellant, Mr. Adebayo Adelodun to the fact that it would be impossible to hear and determine the case before May 29, when Governor Akpabio is due to vacate his office.
Though the appellant’s lawyer pleaded the court to invoke section 22 of the Supreme Court Act and hear the substantive matter on its merit, contending that the suit as a pre-election case has no time limit, the apex court panel declined, insisting that the case has turned into an academic exercise.
The Supreme Court Justices said they were not ready to dissipate their energy on the matter, even as they threatened to impose heavy sanction on the appellant should he refuse to withdraw the appeal as directed.
Left with no option, counsel to the appellant, Adelodun withdrew the case and it was consequently dismissed by the panel.
The plaintiff had among other things, asked the court to among other things. determine “Whether having regard to the provision of Article 17.1 of the constitution of the PDP and paragraph 14, 15 and 16 of the Electoral Act 2010, as amended, and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, the 1st defendant (Akpabio) is qualified to contest the gubernatorial primaries of the 2nd defendant (PDP) held on January 15, 2011, for the purpose of choosing its candidate for the office of Governor of Akwa Ibom State at the general election held in April 2011″.
He contended that under section 87(9) of the Electoral Act, 2010, as amended, the lower courts ought to have disqualified Governor Akpabio on the strength of evidence that were tendered with a view to proving that he did not fulfil all the condition precedents to warrant his participation in both the primary election and the actual governorship poll.
Other Justices that sat on the panel that dismissed the suit yesterday were Justices Sylvester Ngwuta, Clara Ogunbiyi, Kudirat Kekere-Ekun and John Inyang Okoro.