Wednesday 23 August 2023


By: Valentine Adese (JP),

The entire petitions filed by the candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the just concluded elections conducted by INEC on 25th February 2023 and 18th March, 2023 in Plateau State are majorly centered on the structure issue(s) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Plateau State chapter.

The Petitioners have also tried to prove their case by calling witnesses to testify to this alleged non-existence of PDP structure in the state.

More so, the APC and its candidates had called witnesses to also establish that, there were over voting in some Polling Units (PUs), while pointing that, there are some alterations in some of the results tendered, among others.

The PDP and its candidates, who are declared winners in most of the election results declared by INEC, are basically at the Defence, being the major “Respondent” in most of the Petitions.

They have in some of the cases in defence of their declared victories called witnesses and in others, they declined to call any for strategic reasons.

However, in all the Petitions in which they are Respondents and before the Petitions were adjourned for Counsel’s Final Written Address, they tendered Documentary Evidence, trying to contradict the submissions of the Petitioners.

One among the major Documentary Evidence that has been tendered before the three (3) Tribunal Panels sitting in Jos, Plateau State is the Federal High court Judgment in Suit No: FHC/J/CS/64/2022, filed by way of Originating Summons by Mr. Augustine Timkuk by the PDP as Respondents and the Petitioners.

The Defendants on the face of the Judgment documents are as follows:-

  1. INEC
  2. PDP

Mr. Timkuk (The Claimant), brought the suit (Originating Summons), dated 1st June, 2022, pursuant to Section 84 of the Electoral Act, section 38 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Sections 15, 18, 25 and other Sections of the Constitution of the PDP and part 1, iii, iv and v of the Guidelines of the 2nd defendant for Primary Elections 2022, Order 3 Rules 6, 7, and 9 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2019.

Mr. Timkuk therein, sought the FHC to determine, “Whether  having regards to the combined provisions of Sections 15, 18, 25 and the entire provisions of the PDP Constitution, regulating the conduct of Wards, Local Government Area (LGA) and State Congresses, the 4th to 7th defendants have lawful authority to perform  any duties, having regard to the Judgment of the Courts compelling the 2nd defendant to conduct its Congress for the purpose of Constituting its Wards, LGA, and State Executive Committees and

“Whether having regard to the provisions of Section 84 (8) of the Electoral Act, 2022 and the Constitution of the 2nd defendant, the conduct of elections of the 3-man Adhoc delegates in the Federal Wards of the State Constituency seat of Langtang North/South, Federal Constituency, State House of Assembly  Constituencies, the three (3) elections and the failure of the 2nd defendant to comply with the Orders of the Courts compelling the 2nd defendant to conduct its Congresses for the purpose of constituting its Wards, LGA and State Executive Committees, the 4th-7th defendants can summon, preside, direct or superintend over the conduct of any Congresses for the elective office of member of the Plateau State House of Assembly, Federal Constituencies, Senatorial Districts for the purpose of conducting primaries for the nomination of the 2nd defendant’s candidates”, among other questions Timkuk set out for the Court to determination.

The Claimant Timkuk filed a 54 paragraphs Affidavit in support of the Originating Summons. Attached also to the Originating Summons are 9 annextures  marked as, Exhibits AT1, AT3, AT4, AT7, 6A, 6B, 65 and a Written Address.

Upon been served with the Originating Summons, the 2nd defendant filed a 38 paragraphs Affidavit deposed to by Binchen Jantur (Esq), the State Legal Adviser of the 2nd defendant. Attached to the Counter Affidavit are 8 annextures marked as Exhibits R1, R2, R3, R4, R5, R5a, R6, R7 and a Written Address.

The 3rd defendant also filed 17 paragraphs Counter Affidavit to the originating Summons, deposed to by himself. Attached to the Affidavit, are 6 annextures marked as Exhibits A to F and a Written Address.

The 4th-7th defendants filed a 12 paragraphs Counter Affidavit, dated the 26th day of September, 2022 and filed on 27th day of September, 2022 and a Written Address accompanying the Counter Affidavit.

The Claimant also filed a Further Affidavit, dated the 19th of July, 2022 and filed on the same date.

Each of the defendants had filed a Notice of Preliminary Objection (PO).

In their submissions to the 3 Tribunal Panels, the PDP and its candidates have drawn the attention of the Tribunal to some paragraphs of the Judgment where the Court had made findings that, the PDP had actually conducted a Repeat Congress.

While on their part, the APC and its candidates have also drawn the attention of the Tribunal Panels to some paragraphs in the Judgment where the Court completely declined Jurisdiction to determine the Originating Summons.

The paragraphs in part under contention are hereby reproduced below for all readers to read, just as, witnesses were made to read out in the open at the Tribunal Panels.

“I agree with the Objector that the complaint of the Claimant is about the events, decisions and actions of the 2nd defendant/objector in conducting election for 3-man Adhoc Delegates on the 30th April, 2022 and appointment of Electoral Committee on the 19th May, 2022 and not about the conduct of the Primary Election for nomination of candidate for the Langtang North-North Constituency. Therefore the Claimant having not filed the Originating Summons later than 14 days from the 19th of May, 2022, the Suit is Statute Barred.

“The complaint contained in reliefs 2, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11 in the Originating Summons and paragraphs 5, 6, and 24 of the Affidavit in support are against third parties who are not parties to the Originating Summons and that robes this Honourable Court the Jurisdiction to entertain this suit.

“I agree with the submission of Counsel to the 2nd defendant that the Repeated Congress of the 2nd defendant was held on the 25th day of September, 2021 and monitored by the 1st Defendant (INEC) as evidenced by Exhibit R6. This was the reason the Claimant went ahead to participate in the primaries for the Langtang North-North State Constituency on the 22nd May, 2022.

“I do not agree that the 2nd defendant is in disobedience of Exhibit AT3, AT4 and AT5.

“I disagree with Learned Counsel to the Claimant/Objector that Exhibit R5 which is the Suit filed before High Court of Justice Plateau State is not on all fours with the present Suit, hence not abuse of Court process.

“From the content of the Originating Summons the parties and the subject matter are the same. It is my view that this Suit as presently constituted is an abuse of Court process.

“In conclusion, I find merit in the Notice of Preliminary Objection and agree with the 2nd and 3rd defendants/objectors that this Honourable  Court lacks the Jurisdiction to entertain and determine the Originating Summons.

“The Originating Summons is incompetent and is accordingly dismissed”.

You would however recall that, REALITY had reported that, in the views of Barr Samuel (Esq) on this issue of declining of Jusrisdiction he said, “When a Court holds that, it has no jurisdiction on a matter, ordinarily it should not have powers to make any pronouncement denoting rights or liabilities to the parties before it.

“Once a Court holds it has no jurisdiction, every other decision affecting the rights of the parties become academic as those rights cannot be enforced.

“Any decision taking thereafter amounts to no issue. On the issue of the effect of a Court pronouncing on a matter after deciding it has no jurisdiction, the apex Court in Obi vs. INEC (2007) 1 ANLRP 258 held: “once a Court declines jurisdiction to entertain a suit, the only other step it could take in the matter is to make an order striking out the suit.

“Any other Order or pronouncement made by the Court after declaring that it lacks jurisdiction to entertain a suit is null and void and of no effect”.

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