A Makurdi High Court Presided by Honourable Justice Elizabeth Kpojime has issued an interim order restraining Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), All Progressive Congress (APC), Audu Ogbe and Barr. John Ali Ude (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th defendants/respondents respectively) from substituting the name of Agada Austin (plaintiff/applicant) as the APC flag bearer for Ogbadibo State Constituency.
The order is sequel to motion ex-parte No. MHC/45M/19 brought before the court by Honourable Agada Austin, the APC candidate for Ogbadibo State Constituency in the forthcoming State Assembly election.
Agada in the motion prayed the court to restrain the defendants from substituting his name and publishing the name of the 4th defendant (Barr. John Ali Ude) as the APC’s candidate for Ogbadibo State Constituency election.
Attached as exhibit to the to Agada’s supporting affidavit to the motion is the result sheet of the primary election conducted by APC wherein he was declared winner of the primary election.
In the supporting affidavit, Hon Agada deposed that the defendants are making attempts to substitute his name with that of the 4th defendant and publish the name of the 4th defendant as the winner of the said primary election.
Justice Kpojime, having listened to the submissions of M.S. Agaku, who appeared for Agada issued the following order: “The defendants/respondents by themselves or through their agents privies and representatives are hereby restrained from substituting the name of the plaintiff/applicant as the APC flag bearer for the Ogbadibo State Constituency.
“The defendants/respondents by themselves and through their agents privies and representatives are hereby restrained from publishing the name of the 4th defendant/respondent or any other person than the plaintiff/applicant as the candidate of APC for the Ogbadibo State Constituency.”
According to Justice Kpojime, the order was necessary in the interest of justice “to maintain the status quo pending the determination of the motion on notice already filed by the applicant.”
The Honourable Justice therefore, fixed 22nd January, 2019 for hearing of the motion on notice.
It could be recalled that John Ali came fourh in the Ogbadibo State Constituency APC primary election held on 7th October, 2018 with Hon Agada coming first among eight aspirants. None of the aspirants contested the result neither before a panel or a court of law.
Samuel Awuchi, a faithful of APC in the constituency commended the court for the decision. He said “the primary election was conducted in accordance with the APC Constitution and Hon. Agada emerged as a winner. It was the people’s decision and we cannot allow few individuals to subvert the decision of the majority.”
On his part, Comrade Ikpa Isaac of Joint Action Coalition of Civil Society Organisation in Nigeria said “as an advocate of justice, an injustice anywhere is a threat to Justice everywhere.
“We followed the primary election from the beginning and we cannot sit back to watch a situation where a candidate emerged in a democratic process and a Minister of Agriculture will months, after the primaries begin making moves to subsitute the name of the legitimate candidate with the aspirant, who came distant fourth in the process just because the aspirant is his cousin.
“I will advice the Honourable Minister to toll the path of his principal President Muhammadu Buhari, who has not soil his name with any primary election controversy.”
He vowed that “we will continue to use all legal means to fight up to the international court to ensure that justice is served and the mandate is protected.”