The People’s Democratic Party, its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, and Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, have asked a Federal High Court in Abuja to dismiss a suit allegedly instituted by Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State challenging the last presidential primary election of the party.
Atiku, PDP and Tambuwal informed the court that Wike’s suit was “frivolous, baseless, unwarranted and unknown to law”.
A copy of the court processes were obtained by journalists on Wednesday.
The three defendants in their joint objection to the suit, predicated their objections on four cardinal grounds.
Part of the objections filed on their behalf by Ayo Kunle Ajibade (SAN), was that the instant suit as filed was unknown to law and not cognizable under a pre-election matter.
They averred that the first plaintiff, Michael Newgent Ekamon, having not participated in the primary election conducted by the National Executive Committee of PDP lacked the requisite locus standi to institute this suit.
Atiku, PDP and Tambuwal also stated that the suit as brought by the applicants does not fall within the purview of Section 84 of the Electoral Act, as such does not qualify as a preelection dispute.
The fourth ground was that the instant suit was not initiated by due process of the law.
They therefore sought an order of the court striking out or dismissing the suit in its entirety for want of jurisdiction.
Wike had allegedly dragged the PDP, Atiku and Tambuwal to court over the conduct of the presidential primary of the party held in Abuja on May 28 and May 29, 2022.
In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/782/2022, Wike and the PDP chieftain, Newgent Ekamon, were the two plaintiffs.
In the originating summons, PDP was listed as the first respondent while the Independent National Electoral Commission is the 2nd respondent.
Tambuwal and Atiku were listed as the 3rd and 4th respondents respectively.
In the originating summons, Wike and his co-applicant asked the court to determine eight issues including whether the purported transfer of Tambuwal’s votes to Atiku by the PDP was illegal and void.
The plaintiffs asked the court to determine if Tambuwal lost his claim to votes the moment he stepped down for Atiku.
He asked the court to determine whether Tambuwal “having stepped down during the primaries ought to lose his votes.”
Wike and Ekamon argued that should these issues be determined in their favour, the court should grant nine reliefs including a declaration that the purported transfer of Tambuwal’s votes to Atiku be declared null and void.
The plaintiffs are also seeking a declaration that the PDP acted negligently and in bad faith by assigning the Sokoto governor’s votes to Atiku at the primary.
They prayed the court to “cancel the transfer of votes and a corresponding order restraining the 3rd respondent (Tambuwal’s) withdrawal in the primary was done after voting had commenced.”
The applicants also prayed the court to declare that the PDP and Atiku took undue advantage of Tambuwal’s withdrawal when they allowed the Sokoto governor to persuade delegates to vote for the former Vice-President in the primary.
Wike and Ekamon asked the court to order INEC to reject or remove Atiku from “its list of candidates in the 2023 presidential election.”
They are also seeking an order commanding the PDP to recount the votes of the primary that was held on May 28 and May 29.
The applicants are seeking an order of the court “directing the 1st respondent (PDP) to declare the 2nd applicant (Wike), a presidential aspirant in the May 28 and May 29 primary as the winner of the aforesaid primary with a corresponding order directing the 1st respondent (PDP) to forward his name as the candidate to contest the presidential election in 2023.”
In a supporting affidavit he deposed to, Ekamon noted that he was a member of the PDP and attested to the fact that Wike won the presidential election.
He maintained that Tambuwal withdrew from the contest after voting had commenced and directed that his votes be assigned to Atiku.
“The third respondent (Tambuwal) speaking twice before stepping down from the contest, persuaded all his delegates who were going to vote for him to vote for the 4th respondent (Atiku).
“The 1st (PDP) and 4th (Atiku) respondents who also wanted the votes desperately agreed with the 3rd (Tambuwal) and assigned 3rd (Tambuwal) respodnent’s votes to the 4th (Atiku) respondent and increased his votes to win the 2nd applicant (Wike).
“The 2nd applicant (Wike) won the primaries if the votes of the 3rd respondent (Tambuwal) had not been transferred or assigned to the 4th respondent (Atiku).
Meanwhile, hearing in the suit has been fixed for September 14 by Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed.