The Federal High Court in Abuja has upheld the just concluded primary election of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Akwa Ibom State.
It could be recalled that Mr. Friday Iwok and 30 others had, in a suit with No. FHC/ABJ/CS/606/22, challenged the ward congress conducted in the state on April 30, 2022.
They claimed that the court had ordered, amongst others, that it would be in the interest of justice for the parties to maintain the status quo antebellum pending the hearing and determination of the suit and an appeal by the party with the Court of Appeal, Abuja, on May 19th, 2022, alongside an application for stay of order at the same Federal High Court, Abuja.
In his argument, Counsel to the Plaintiffs, Ahmed Raji, said the 2nd-331st defendants, PDP, and its Adhoc Delegates committed contempt of court by ignoring the Status Quo Bellum order of the court and urged the court to cancel the outcome of all the primaries which commenced on Sunday, May 22nd, in Akwa Ibom State.
Raji argued, “It is contempt by the violators, but we are only asking that the court set aside all actions taken by the defendants after being served with the order of the court."
“If the order to maintain the status quo is not obeyed, they will likely not obey the final judgement.”
He, therefore, appealed for more time to study the preliminary objections filed by the defendants, which the court accepted following no objections by the counsel for the defendants.
However, counsel to the 2nd–331st defendants, Uwemedimo Nwoko SAN, argued that the Status Quo Bellum advice by the court was misrepresented by the plaintiffs to mean an order of the court to stop the primaries from holding.
Mr. Nwoko urged the court to ignore the call for the cancellation of the primaries and rather focus on the preliminary objections which argue that the plaintiffs had no locus standi to challenge the ward Adhoc Congresses in Akwa Ibom State and had not shown any evidence that they contested for the PDP adhoc delegates primaries in the state.
“Someone in this court erroneously published that the court’s Status Quo Ante Bellum advice was an order stopping the PDP primaries, whereas my lord never made such an order,” he said.
Nwoko, who lauded the court for proceeding to hear the preliminary objections instituted, assured that “since Iwok and co were not even aspiring delegates ab initio, they had no business coming to waste the time of the court.”
Also, Paul Usoro, appearing for PDP, reasoned, "personally, I looked at the order of the court and it was an advice which I believe was well intended by His lord, but the other parties (the Adhoc delegates) who were on the same day joined in the matter, were not even given time to articulate their case and I don’t think His lord would have given an order against such people.”
He said since it was not a restraining order, the Congress of the PDP was held and it was in compliance with the electoral law 2022 as amended, which forbids the court from stopping the primaries and elections.
“We have filed a notice of preliminary objections submitted. We also filed a motion for stay of execution, in other to stay on the side of caution, "he said.
The court, presided by Justice Obiora Egwatu, agreed that the court never stopped the primaries of the PDP in its order and urged the plaintiffs to go ahead with their arguments on the preliminary objections over jurisdiction and locus standi brought by the defendants.
He urged the parties in the case to avoid delaying the process but to help the court accelerate the hearing following the limited judicial time frame for pre-election matters.
The court, however, adjourned to Wednesday, June 1, 2022, for further hearing on preliminary objections by the defendants.