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2023: PDP, INEC dragged to court over high cost of nomination forms

Ahead of its presidential primary election fixed for May 28, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been dragged before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, over the high cost of expression of interest and nomination form for aspirants by the party.

It is the contention of the plaintiff that the act of the PDP interposing a monetary condition as additional qualification criteria for aspirants is a violation of the 1999 Constitution and section 84(3) and (4) of the Electoral Act 2020.

In the suit marked FCT/CV/144/2022, the plaintiff, Okey Uzoho, a legal practitioner and a card carrying member of the PDP, said he was desirous of contesting for the office of President of Nigeria in the 2023 election as the flag-bearer of the party. The two defendants in the suit are the PDP and the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC).

In his supporting affidavit to the suit, Uzoho, however, averred that he was denied the opportunity of actualising his aspiration on the grounds that he could not submit a bank draft in the sum of N40 million, being a condition precedent for acquiring the expression of interest and nomination forms for the party’s presidential primary election.

He told the court that he had met all the qualifications and requirements set down by the 1999 constitution and extant laws for participation in the presidential primary election of the PDP for the 2023 election.

In addition, Uzoho stated that he was not caught up by any of the disqualification criteria set down in section 137 of the 1999 constitution.

The aggrieved politician has posed the following questions for the determination of the court as follows: “Whether having regard to section 131 read along with section 1(1) and (3) of the 1999 constitution, the PDP is entitled to impose or interpose as additional qualification/s the payment of N40 million by the plaintiff, as further qualification to seek the party’s sponsorship for election to the office of president of Nigeria.

“Whether having regard to the provisions of section 84(3) of the Electoral Act 2022, it is not unlawful and in violation of the aforesaid provisions of the Electoral Act, for the PDP to demand and insist on collecting the sum of N5 million for expression of interest form and another sum of N35 million for presidential nomination form, from the plaintiff before he could aspire to the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on its platform.

“Whether it is lawful for the 1st defendant (PDP), to refuse or neglect to avail the plaintiff of its expression of interest form and presidential nomination form for the party’s presidential primary election for the 2023 election, for reasons of non-payment of the sum of N40 million for purchase of the said forms.

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“Whether having regard to the provisions of item 15(a), (c), (f) and (i) of the third schedule to the 1999 constitution; and section 83(2) and (4) of the Electoral Act 2022, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), ought to accept and/or give effect to the outcome of the party’s 2023 presidential primary election where the plaintiff was not allowed to participate on account of non-payment of N40 million under the guise of purchasing expression of interest form and nomination form for the said primary election or any related guise.

“That whether the refusal to supply him with the necessary forms required for participation in the party’s 2023 presidential primary election is not in violation of his right to peaceful assembly, association and freedom from discrimination as enshrined in sections 40 and 42 of the 1999 Constitution.”

The plaintiff, who is demanding the sum of N 50 million as compensation for the anxiety, inconvenience, loss of valuable campaign time occasioned by the denial to participate at the presidential primary, is seeking an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants from excluding him from the presidential primary.

He is further pressing for an order of injunction compelling the PDP to provide him with all the necessary facilities to ensure his participation in the party’s primary election for the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The originating summon is accompanied by a 12-paragraph  affidavit of urgency deposed to by a legal practitioner, Zephaniah Bashi.

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the case.

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