A court has temporarily barred Nigeria’s governing party, APC, from presenting candidates for the 2019 elections in Delta State.
The Federal High Court in Asaba, the Delta State capital, restrained the National Working Committee (NWC) of the APC from submitting the list of the party’s candidates in Delta State to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
In a ruling on Wednesday, Justice Toyin Adegoke ordered the party and other respondents to maintain the status quo and not submit any list of candidates from the two factions of the party in the state to INEC, till the substantive suit is heard.
The National Chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole, was joined in the suit,as the second respondent with APC as first respondent. Also joined are INEC and Jones Erue as the third and fourth respondents respectively.
The Cyril Ogodo-led State Working Committee (SWC) of the party in the state and others had applied for the interlocutory injunction restraining NWC of APC and Mr Oshiomhole from submitting the list of candidates from Mr Erue’s faction to INEC.
In her ruling, the judge said “this matter shall be given an accelerated hearing owing to fact that it is a pre-election matter. All defendants are to take note of the pendency of this suit.
“Parties shall maintain the status quo as at today, the 17th day of October 2018. That is the order of this court.” Mr Adegoke ruled.
Counsel to the applicants, O.J. Oghenejakpor, said the implication of the ruling is that no list will be submitted to INEC until the case is determined.
“Technically, the court has granted an injunction restraining any person to nominate any candidate from Delta State for the 2019 election. The issue will have to await the substantive trial which is now fixed for 1st and 2nd November, 2018. Court has also granted us an accelerated hearing so that the facts can be put to rest once and for all,” he said.
Mr Oghenejakpor added that the order by the court was a healing process.
“I think if the national executives could take opportunity of this process, this is what will bring the party together in Delta State.”
Meanwhile, counsel to the first and second respondents, George Onaho, who challenged the jurisdiction of the court to hear the suit, however, said the court has done the needful.
“In the view of the court, our objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court has to wait and be adopted together with our final written address after the substantive suit must have been heard. So that necessitated the adjournment that was taken and the court has ordered an accelerated hearing and gave two days to call in witnesses and deal with it.”
Two factions of the party exist in the state and held parallel primaries that produced different sets of candidates for the elections in the state.
The APC faces a similar problem in Zamfara State where INEC has said it would not allow the party field candidates for any elective positions. INEC said it took the decision because the APC failed to conduct primaries in the state before the deadline. The APC has, however, vowed to present candidates in Zamfara.