Otti dismisses sack by Kano federal high court

ABIA State Governor-elect, Alex Otti, has dismissed the purported nullification of his election by a Federal High Court in Kano as baseless and misleading.

The ICIR had reported that Otti, alongside other candidates of the Labour Party (LP) in Abia and Kano states were sacked by Justice M. N. Yunusa on Friday.

Yunusa purportedly ruled that their emergence and subsequent participation in the polls did not adhere to the requirements of the Electoral Act, 2022.

The judge in the suit filed by one Ibrahim Haruna Ibrahim against the LP and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) ruled that the failure of the LP to submit its membership register to INEC within 30 days of its primaries rendered the process invalid.

Judge denies nullifying Oti’s election

After the judgment sparked outcry on social media, the judge clarified saying that his decision did not have any bearing on Otti, the LP candidates in Abia.

The court, however, said it nullified the election of the candidates for Kano LP that contested during the 2023 general election.

“This court lacks jurisdiction to make an order for the issuance of certificate of return. They are at liberty to seek redress in the appropriate division of the court,” he said.

He said INEC was bound to insist on receiving the registered members of the first respondent and that of other political parties 30 days before primary election in compliance with section 77(3) of the Electoral Act 2022.

The section states that a party that has not complied with the Section 77(2)(3) of the Electoral Act 2022 cannot be declared winner of the election.

“The court declared the primary election of LP in Kano as null and void,” Nasir-Yunusa said.

However, in a statement issued by Ferdinand Ekeoma, his Special Adviser Media and Publicity, the Governor-elect, urged the public to disregard his sack.

Ekeoma, who described the entire process as a “legal coup”, criticised the individuals behind the suit for lacking the courage to confront his boss directly.

He noted that Otti was never made a party to the case, likely due to fear that his highly competent lawyers, would have exposed the perpetrators’ motives.

According to Ekeoma, the court refrained from issuing any order concerning Abia LP candidates or Otti himself, because it was aware of its powers and the potential trap set by the perpetrators.

Referring to previous cases handled by the Federal High Court in Abia involving LP and PDP candidates, Ekeoma highlighted the victories achieved by LP at all levels of the judiciary, from the Federal High Court to the Court of Appeal and even the Supreme Court.

He reiterated that the case brought by the petitioners constituted a pre-election matter, stressing that the petitioners lacked the standing required by Section 285(14)(a) of the Electoral Act as they were not aspirants in LP.

“The court specifically stated in Clause 9 of the judgment that the candidates that participated in the election in Abia are not parties before this court and as such the court lacks the jurisdiction to make an order for the issuance of Certificate of Return to them,” he said.

“The Federal High Court in Abia had entertained similar cases as pre-election matters involving some PDP candidates versus LP candidates, and the matters were adjudicated upon to the Supreme Court.

“In all the cases, LP won at the Federal High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.

“The case brought by the petitioners is a pre-election matter and under Section 285(14)(a) of the Electoral Act, the petitioners have no locus standi as they were not aspirants in LP.”

He further argued that the Federal High Court in Kano had no jurisdiction over Abia and stressed that any decision stemming from that court would have no effect on Otti’s position.






     

     

    He urged the public not to panic and assured them that Otti would soon be sworn in as governor, enabling him to initiate the process of rebuilding the state.

    Otti emerged victorious in the March 18 Guber poll after beating his major rival, Okey Ahiwe of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)

    The LP candidate secured 175,467 votes, while Ahiwe got 88,529.

    Enyinnaya Nwafor of the Young Peoples Party (YPP) scored 28,972 votes to finish third.

    You can reach out to me on Twitter via: vincent_ufuoma

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