Court reverses SDP candidate’s disqualification

 Eric Ikhilae, Abuja

 

A FEDERAL High Court sitting in Abuja on Thursday reversed a decision by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to exclude the candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Mrs. Natasha Akpoti , from the November 16 governorship election in Kogi State.

Delivering judgment, Justice Folashade Ogunbanjo-Giwa held that INEC acted outside the law by refusing to accept the party and its candidate for the poll.

Justice Giwa-Ogunbanjo was of the view that INEC was without the power to disqualify any candidate for any election without first obtaining a court order to that effect.

She held that disqualifying any candidate “is the exclusive reserve of a competent court of law.”

According to the judge, the provisions of sections 31(1) and 83 of the Electoral Act, which holds that INEC cannot disqualify or reject a candidate nominated by a political party for an election is aimed at ensuring that it does not lie within the executive realms of INEC to determine who participates in an election.

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She added that the intention of the law was to make INEC an unbiased umpire.

The judge accordingly granted reliefs one to seven of the plaintiffs and ordered INEC to include the names of the governorship and deputy governorship candidate of the SDP as well as the party’s logo on the ballot in the November 16 poll in the state.

qualified in the first place to be fielded as a deputy governorship candidate in the election on account of his age.

But the plaintiffs in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1129/2019 and filed on October 3 by their lawyer, Ola Olanipekun, SAN, sought a declaration of the court that INEC’s declaration vide a letter with reference number: LEG/PP/23/T/107 that “the nomination of Mohammed Yakubu as the deputy governor of the SDP in the gubernatorial election is “invalid” on the grounds of qualification is ultra vires the statutory powers of INEC and it’s, therefore, null and void.”

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