The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has formally challenged the jurisdiction of a Federal High Court, which summoned it to offer explanations on why its May 28 Presidential Primary should be stopped.
PDP insisted that the Federal High Court has no jurisdiction over an issue it described as its “pure internal affairs”.
In a notice of preliminary objection filed by its lawyer, Mahmud Magaji SAN against a suit seeking to stop the primary election by its lawyer, PDP submitted that the subject matter of the case which borders on whether to zone its presidential ticket to any part of the country is not an issue that the court has the mandate to decide.
Justice Donatus Okorowo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, had last Thursday, ordered the PDP to appear before it on May 5, to show cause why the request of one of its presidential aspirants to stop the scheduled primary election for the selection of the party’s flag bearer in the 2023 presidential election should not be granted.
The aspirant, a former Deputy Speaker of the Abia State House of Assembly, Mr. Cosmas Ndukwe, had brought an application for an order of injunction restraining the PDP from proceeding with its scheduled primary election pending the hearing and determination of his suit challenging the position of the party on the issue of zoning the party’s presidential ticket.
Defendants in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/508/2022 are the PDP, its National Chairman of Dr Iyorchia Ayu, Senator Samuel Anyanwu and the Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC) as 1st to 4th respectively.
Rather than granting the request, the judge ordered that the PDP appear before it on May 5 and show cause why the court should not accede to the plaintiff’s demand.
In a swift response, however, the PDP asked the court to either strike out the suit for want of jurisdiction or dismiss it for being “statute-barred”.
According to PDP, “the cause of action in the suit relates to the internal affairs of a political party and therefore falls within the doctrine of political questions which are non-justiciable” and as such the court lacks jurisdiction to entertain it.
On the issue of statute-barred, the PDP noted that the cause of action arose from the PDP National Zoning Committee Communique of April 5 whereas the plaintiff’s suit was filed on April 19 (15 days after) in violation of Section 285 of the Constitution which provides for 14 days to file such cases.
While arguing further that the plaintiff lacked the necessary legal right to initiate the case, the PDP submitted that no civil right of the plaintiff has been wronged pursuant to section 6(6) of the Constitution.
The party therefore asked the court to uphold its objection and dismiss the case of the plaintiff, adding that the plaintiff would not be prejudiced or suffer any hardship if the case was dismissed.
PDP is expected to honour the summon on May 5 and present its position before Justice Donatus Okorowo.