by crossriverwatch admin
A Calabar High Court presided over by Honorable Justice Michael Edem yesterday ruled that only candidates sponsored by the Peoples Progressive Alliance, PPA and the National Conscience Party, NCP respectively were as at 17th June 2013 eligible to contest the Local Government Elections in Yakurr, Obudu and Obanliku Local Government Councils.
In Suit No. HC/233/2013 filed by the National Conscience Party and the Progressive People Alliance the Claimants prayed the Court for:
1. A declaration that the time fixed by the defendant requiring political parties to fill and submit CROSIEC forms LGE001A and LGE001A and LGE002 expired on the 17th day of June 2013.
2. A declaration that only the Claimants (PPA and NCP) amongst other political parties filled and delivered CROSIEC Forms LGE 001A and LGE002 to the Defendant within the time allowed as a condition precedent under S. 21 of Cross River State Independent Electoral Commission Law for the nomination of their candidates for the Chairmanship contest in Obanliku, Obudu and Yakurr Local Government Areas of Cross River State for the forth coming 2013 Local Government Elections.
3. A declaration that the sale of nomination papers to candidates of political parties wishing to contest the September 21st, 2013 Local Government Polls in Cross River State ended on the 21st Day of June, 2013.
4. A declaration that only the Claimants bought nomination papers for their candidates among other political parties in Obanliku, Obudu and Yakurr Local Government Areas of Cross River State within the time allowed by law.
5. A declaration that any further sale of nomination papers to any other political party for the purposes of contesting the forth coming Local Government Election, 2013 in Cross River State in Obanliku, Obudu and Yakurr Chairmanship constituencies after the 21st of June 2013 is null and void and infringe on the Claimants rights to equality and fair play before the law.
6. A declaration that any form LGE001A and Form LGE002 issued to any other political party by the defendant after 17th Day of June 2013 as a condition precedent to sponsor Chairmanship candidates for the Local Government Election in Obudu, Obanliku and Yakurr is void.
7. An order of injunction restraining the defendant by itself, servants, agents, officers, privies and any person acting through or under them from selling or acting on or processing any nomination form sold to any political party candidate after the 21st day of June 2013 for the purpose of contesting the local government chairmanship election in Obanliku, Obudu and Yakurr Local Government Areas of Cross River State.
8. An order of injunction restraining the defendant by itself , servants, agents, officers, privies and any person acting through or under them from issuing Cross River State Independent Electoral Commission form LGE001A and LGE002 or any similar form to any political party after the 17th day of June, 2013 as a condition precedent to enable such parties sponsor a candidate in the chairmanship contest in Obudu, Obanliku and Yakurr chairmanship constituencies and if issued, not to act on them or in any way regard them as a fulfillment of a condition precedent required under section 21 of the Cross River State Independent Electoral Commission law to sponsor any candidate for the forthcoming local government election; the same being inconsistent with the defendant’s electoral time table.
9. An order directing the defendant not to accord recognition to any person who bought a nomination form from it out of time as a purported candidate of any political party for the purpose of contesting the local government chairmanship in Obudu, Obanlikwu and Yakurr Local Government Areas and that only the claimant can sponsor candidates in these local government areas.
10. And for such further or other orders as this honorable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstance.
The Cross River State Independent Electoral Commission had in their guidelines for the September 21 LG polls fixed June 17, 2013 as the final day for the submission of nomination papers by all eligible political parties contesting the September 11 local government election.
While the PPA and NCP that fielded candidates only in those three councils out of the eighteen were able to meet the dateline, the ruling PDP was only able to conduct its primaries on June 17, 2013 but their nominations were still accepted by CROSIEC against its own stipulated guidelines.
The Court therefore held that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP which conducted its primary elections on the 17th June 2013 did not file the nomination papers of its candidates within the time stipulated by the Cross River State Independent Electoral Commission, CROSIEC law and the participation of the party’s candidates in the election in those three council areas was null and void.
According to the presiding judge, His Lordship, Justice Michael Edem, “It is hereby ordered that the preliminary objection by the defendant be and is hereby dismissed. The declaration sought by the claimant is here granted except 7, 8, 9 on injunction since the acts complained of had already taken place and completed as decreed by the law”.
Some of the opposition stalwarts who spoke with CrossRiverWatch after the judgment lauded the decision of the Court and expressed hope that CROSIEC will proceed to conduct fresh elections in those local government areas.
Mr. Godfrey Akpama, the State Chairman of PPA told CrossRiverWatch that “We expect the rule of law to take its course. We have respect for the law courts and we expect CROSIEC to do the same by proceeding to conduct fresh elections in those local governments that the Court has voided. CROSIEC gave us all a timetable; they did not at any point change the time table date.
“In spite of all the hurdles on our path as opposition parties, we were still able to run around and meet the requirements of law but CROSIEC decided to use administrative reasons to extend the time for the ruling party because the body is controlled by the ruling party.
“Another thing to take note of is that by the Court judgment, PDP candidates are not eligible to contest the fresh election because their nomination papers are deemed not to have been submitted because the Supreme Court says once an action does not take place as at the time it was fixed, it is deemed not to have taken place at all.”
Barr Obono Obla, a chieftain of the opposition APC also told CrossRiverWatch that: “The judgment is a great development and goes to show that the judiciary is still working and it remains the hope of the common man. It also shows that the impunity we have been complaining about in the way elections are conducted in the state must come to an end.
“Why will CROSIEC accept nomination papers from candidates when the time that CROSIEC itself set for submission had elapsed? Can you say CROSIEC is independent? CROSIEC is not independent! They are controlled by the ruling party PDP and I have been saying that. We need electoral reforms in Cross River to make CROSIEC truly independent. I also salute Justice Michael Edem. He is one of our best in the Bar. He is an intellectual, he is industrious and courageous.”
Attempts to get the reaction of CROSIEC as at press time were unsuccessful as several calls to the Chairman phone did not connect.
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