Alleged Age Falsification: Court Dismisses Suit Against Cross River Governor

A Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday dismissed a suit filed by Mr Joe Agi (SAN), a Cross River People’s Democratic Party (PDP) governorship aspirant, seeking to nullify the election of Governor Benedict Ayade over alleged age falsification, for lacking in merit.

Delivering judgment, Justice Abdul Kafarati held that the issues bordering on the conduct of party primaries and election of candidates were purely the domestic affairs of political parties.

According to Kafarati, the court lacks the powers to intervene in the internal affairs of a political party.

He said: “Section 87 [10] of the Electoral Act, 2010, relates to the conduct of party primaries. The issues of payment of monthly dues, levies and sponsorship of candidates and who will be a candidate of a political party are internal affairs of the party.

“A court of law cannot compel a political party to sponsor a particular candidate for an elective position.

“The court can only intervene where there is complain as to a breach in the conduct of the primary. Clearly, the issues of non-payment of monthly subscription and annual fees by a member of a political party, as alleged, are outside the jurisdiction of court.’’

He further held that the evidence placed before him showed that the governor was cleared by the party to contest the governorship election after he was screened and issued with a certificate of clearance.

The judge said that the guidelines of the PDP Constitution were duly followed, having confirmed that the governor was not indebted to the party.

The court held that the allegations of forgery and perjury preferred against the defendant by the plaintiff were criminal offences, which must be proved beyond reasonable doubts.

Kafarati also said that the allegations needed to be properly investigated by the appropriate authorities.

Justice Kafarati further faulted the process of Originating Summons by which the plaintiff filed the suit, saying it was wrong in a criminal charge.

Agi had filed the suit praying the court to disqualify the governor for purportedly submitting false information on his age to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Specifically, he alleged that Ayade gave false information and declaration on Oath in INEC Form CF 001 that he was born on March 2, 1969 and in completing the screening form gave March 2, 1968 as his date of birth.

Agi, who came second in the December 2014 governorship primary, argued that having breached the PDP Electoral Guidelines and the Electoral Act, 2010, the court should nullify Ayade’s election.

The plaintiff had also prayed the court to declare him the candidate of the party, winner of the election and governor of the state in place of Ayade, accordingly.

Author: newsadmin2

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