The Supreme Court has struck out an appeal filed by the APC challenging the judgment of a High Court in Port Harcourt which barred the party from conducting any primaries in the state to nominate candidates to represent the party in the forthcoming election.
Ruling on a preliminary objection raised by the respondents, Ibrahim Umah and 22 other aggrieved members of the APC, Justice Aliyu Sanusi, in a lead judgement, said there was substance in the objection raised by the respondent.
Consequently, the preliminary objection having been upheld, “the appeal is struck out”.
In a unanimous decision, the court agreed with the respondents that the suit from which the trial court entered a judgment barring the APC from holding primaries was an election matter which the court had jurisdiction to entertain.
Justice Sanusi stated that reasons for striking out the appeal would be given on a date to be announced to parties.
On Monday, the Supreme Court had taken arguments from the counsel for the appellant, Lateef Fagbemi, and counsel for the respondents, Henry Bello, and said at the end of the sitting that it would deliver judgment today and give reasons at a later date.
In his argument, Fagbemi urged the Supreme Court to nullify the judgment of the High court on the grounds that the trial court had no jurisdiction when it entertained the suit.
He also claimed that since the trial court had no jurisdiction its judgment in the matter amounted to a nullity and should be set aside.
Fagbemi specifically asked the Supreme Court to invoke section 22 of the Supreme Court act and give final judgment in the matter to end the multiple cases arising from the rivers state APC primary election.
However, in his own argument, counsel for the respondent, Bello urged the Supreme Court to dismiss the appeal of the APC on the ground that it has become a mere academic in nature.
He submitted that by the decision of the Supreme Court of February 8, 2019, which upheld the decision of the High Court in Port Harcourt and barred APC from conducting primary election, the case of APC had died and should be buried.
Bello told the court that the respondent led by Ibrahim Umar who were aggrieved by the violation of the Electoral Act and the 1999 Constitution in the manner the APC conducted the primary election in Rivers, had secured a consent judgment at the high court and that the judgment still stands.
He urged the apex court that to hold that the instant appeal has become academic exercise.