The Supreme Court has struck out a suit which challenged the refusal of the People Democratic Party (PDP) to stick to its zoning policy in the nomination of its presidential candidate for next year’s election.
A five-member panel, in a judgment on Friday, held unanimously that the court lacked the jurisdiction to hear the suit.
In the lead judgment read by Justice Adamu Jauro, the court agreed with the lawyer to the PDP, Mahmud Magaji (SAN) that the issue of nomination of candidates for election was internal to the political party.
It also held that issues raised in the suit were not justiciable on the grounds that the nomination of candidates for election is an internal affairs of any political party.
The judgment was on an appeal by a presidential aspirant of PDP and former Deputy Speaker of Abia State House of Assembly, Cosmos Ndukwe.
Ndukwe had, shortly before the PDP’s presidential primary election, sued at the Federal High Court in Abuja to challenge the decision of the party to abandon its zoning policy.
In the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/508/2022, Ndukwe, now the Commissioner of Trade and Investment in Abia State, had prayed the court to among others, compel the PDP to uphold its zoning policy as enshrined in the party’s construction by nominating a southern candidate.
Defendants in the suit are the PDP; its National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu; the National Secretary, Samuel Anyanwu and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
In a ruling on April 28, 2022 Justice Donatus Okorowo of the Federal High Court, Abuja granted an order for accelerated hearing and abridged the time within which the defendants should respond, a decision the defendants appealed at the Court of Appeal, Abuja.
In its judgment on July 15, 2022, the Court of Appeal held that the Federal High Court ought not to have heard the case on grounds of want of jurisdiction, a decision Ndukwe appealed at the Supreme Court in two appeals marked: SC/CV/1033/2022 and SC/CV/1034/2022.
The Supreme Court, in its decision on Friday, affirmed the Court of Appeal’s earlier decision that the Federal High Court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case.
The apex court held that there were plethora of authorities to the effect that the selection and nomination of candidates for elections are internal affairs of political parties, into which no court should dabble.
The Supreme Court proceeded to invoke its powers under Section 22 of the Supreme Court Act to determine the case on the merit.
It held that its finding, to the effect that issues raised in the case were not justiciable and were within the internal affairs of the political parties, should serve as the final decision in the case.
The Supreme Court’s five-member panel, headed by Justice Amina Augie, also had Justices Mohammed Garba, Emmanuel Agim and Tijani Abubakar as members.