SDP 2019 presidential ticket suit: Court to deliver judgement soon

A Federal High Court in Maitama, Abuja, is set to deliver judgement in a suit preferred against Former Governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke and presidential flag bearer of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) by a presidential aspirant of the party, Professor Jerry Gana challenging his candidacy for the 2019 presidential election.

The former Nigeria Minister of Information who contested the SDP presidential primaries had shortly after the election held at the Old Parade Ground, Area 10, Garki, Abuja, October, dragged the party, its presidential candidate, Duke and others to court.

Gana headed to court after he lost the presidential primaries to challenge the outcome of the election in which Duke emerged as winner, having polled highier votes and consequently pronounced as the SDP presidential flag bearer for the 2019 presidential election, on grounds of violation of the party’s rotation and zoning principle.

When the matter came up for hearing on Thursday, 29th November 2018, Lead Counsel to the claimant,Mr. Pius Akubo(SAN), adopted the amended originating process and the support affidavit written address as well as the further and better affidavit.

The counsel to the claimant argued that ariticle 15(3) of the amended SDP constitution which entrenches the principle of zoning and rotation of key political offices
including the office of the president and that of the national chairman of the party must be adhered to.

He further argued before the court presided by Justice H.B Yusuf that the amended constitution was the basis of all activities before the primaries and therefore, the defendant must comply with it’s positions and disqualify Donald Duke and submit the name of the claimant, Professor Jerry Gana as the Presidential Candidate of the SDP.

On the other hand, in his submission, the defense counsel, Bar. Eyitayo Jegede adopted the counter affidavit and written address.

He however, told the court that it is the position of the defendant that only the old constitution of the defendant applied to its activities and Presidential Primaries as the said amended constitution 2018 only came into force on 6th October when it was ratified at the National Convention.

The defendant therefore, contended that the Presidential Primaries of SDP was valid and rotation or zoning did not apply against Donald Duke.

After adumberation of points by both counsel in support of their respective cases, the court adjourned for judgement on a date to be communicated later.

Smartgist24 recalls that speaking in an interview with journalists after one of the sittings held earlier, Lead cousel to Gana, Bar. Akubo noted that his client was in court to ventilate his grievance over the violation of the party’s constitution by the leadership.

He further noted that commendably, the party had come up with a novel provision in its constitution by entrenching the principle of zoning of key political offices including the office of the president and that of the national chairman of the party.

However, he said: “Regrettably, that was violated with impunity in the just concluded primaries.”

“Prof. Jerry is here to give vent to article 15(3) of the party’s constitution that entrenches the principle of zoning and rotation of public offices as agreed to by the party. We firmly believe that the party’s constitution is supreme and is binding on all its members so, we are here in court to ventilate the grievances on the basis of this provision and the case has been adjourned to next week Tuesday, to enable us conclude processes between both parties and go straight to the substantive application for court to determine finally the fate of the parties,” he had added.

Also addressing journalists after the sitting, the claimant, Professor. Jerry Gana said he felt disappointed that the party violated its own principles by picking Donald Duke as its presidential candidate for 2019 election.

“We are in court because we feel profoundly disappointed that a party that we have built up to stand for justice, fairness and due process did not obey its constitution and therefore, we felt that since we are laying the foundations of a durable democracy that will respect the rule of law, the party should be made to obey its constitution.

“That constitution, very clearly provide in section 15(3) that the party will respect the principle of rotation and zoning because that is important for this period in building the Federal Republic of Nigeria so that there will be fairness and balance of the forces within the nation because we are building a nation that will be peaceful, orderly such that every part will feel respected,” he said.

Gana, who regretted that, that provision was violated on the 6th of October when the convention was convened at the Old Parade Ground, here in Abuja, further stated that the party’s constitution specify that the position of chairman and president cannot be from the same part of Nigeria, largely South and North.

“In order words, if the Chairman of our party, Chief Olu Falae, according to that provision comes from the southern part of Nigeria, then the presidential candidate, subsequently, the president, must come from the northern state. That position was so very clear that our chairman actually went on air very clearly, very publicly and very confidently and in very clear terms that the presidential candidate of the party will emerge from either North-Central, North-East or North-West, so there was no basis whatsoever on that provision for any other candidate to have been allowed from outside the northern state.

“We feel this is an issue of love, an issue of constitution and since the Social Democratic Party is very determine to bring about due process, good governance, rule of law, it must be made to obey its constitution,” he had said

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