FORMER Governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke, says he will challenge any decision that seeks to subvert the wishes of the majority of members of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) who voted him in as their presidential candidate.
Duke said this in reaction to the ruling by Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf of the FCT High Court on Friday removing him as the SDP presidential candidate and replacing him with former Minister of Information, Jerry Gana.
Justice Baba-Yusuf upheld Gana’s argument that according to the SDP constitution, the National Chairman of the party and its presidential candidate cannot come from one zone. Both Olu Falae, the SDP National Chairman, and Donald Duke are from the southern region of the country.
“The law has crystallised that political parties should abide by the regulations which they have made by themselves. The claimant laid sufficient evidence to have the judgment in his favour; it is a clear violation of the party’s constitution; the court cannot wave right over illegality,” the judge ruled.
He subsequently declared Duke’s votes at the SDP presidential primary election null and void and declared that Gana was the winner of the election. He also urged Duke to quit parading himself as the party’s presidential candidate.
Reacting to the judgement, Duke said that “every Nigerian who meets the legal requirement is entitled to contest for the office of the President”.
“Any law that seeks to curtail or subvert that right under any guise is unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect,” Duke told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
“The delegates of our great party, at its convention in October, overwhelmingly elected me as their presidential Flag-bearer. Any attempt to subvert their wishes through the instrumentality of the courts will be challenged.
“As a Law abiding citizen, I urge my supporters and members to remain calm as we are confident that the decision of the Court will be upturned on appeal. We are optimistic that the Appellate Court will reach a decision that reinforces the essential tenets of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”