ABUJA, Nigeria – The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday, ruled that the Action Alliance (AA) was no longer eligible to field candidates for the Nov. 16 governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi States.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, who gave the ruling, said that the party failed to abide by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)’s guidelines on the timeline for submission of candidates’ names.
According to the judge, the INEC’s guidelines say that all political parties must have submitted their nomination forms by 6pm of Sept. 9 for the elections.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that AA, along with its Kogi and Bayelsa governorship candidate; Dr. Samuel Alfa and Ebi Peretiemo respectively, had jointly filed the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1100/19.
They contended in the suit that having complied with the Provisions of 85(1) to (2) and Section 31(1) of the Electoral Act, INEC could not have validly rejected the nomination of their candidates for the forthcoming elections in the two states.
The plaintiffs said they were at the INEC headquarters of INEC on Sept. 9 to submit Forms CF.001 and CF.002, among other nomination forms for the two candidates.
They said they were given tag number 15, but an INEC official in charge of the collection of the forms refused to accept their forms when it got to their turn.
Delivering judgment, Justice Ekwo held that the plaintiffs failed to provide evidence that they were on the premises of INEC or attempted to submit their forms before 6pm on Sept. 9.
“The first plaintiff (AA) having not complied with the guidelines and regulations of INEC that it must submit its candidates’ nomination forms on or before 6pm on Sept. 9, 2019, is ineligible to field candidates in the November 2019 governorship election in Kogi and Bayelsa States.
“I hold that your case lacks merit,” he said.
In an interview with NAN shortly after the ruling, INEC’s Counsel, Alhassan Umar, SAN, described the judgment as a victory for democracy.