By Martins Odeh
#TrackNigeria: The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed an appeal by All Progressives Congress (APC) challenging the jurisdiction of Rivers State High Court to adjudicate on internal affairs of the party.
Giving the ruling, Justice Amiru Sanusi held that the reason for the apex court’s decision would be given at a later date.
The APC had dragged Ibrahim Umah and 22 other members of the party who instituted the action at the high court, to the Supreme Court on appeal.
The High Court in Port Harcourt had cancelled the primaries conducted by the appellant to elect its state officials and delegates, preparatory to electing candidates for the general elections.
Mr Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), Counsel to APC had prayed the appellate court to invoke Section 22 of the Supreme Court Act to decide the merit of the matter.
Fagbemi argued that the lower court erred to have assumed jurisdiction on disputes emanating from the conduct of primary election for appellant to elect its candidates for the general elections.
He averred that the six reliefs brought before the trial court placed restriction on the court to adjudicate on the matter.
Fagbemi further said that the selection of officials and delegates of political parties were internal affairs of the entity as prescribed by the Electoral Act, 2010 as amended.
He also submitted that the respondents were interlopers as they were either aspirants or delegates that participated in the primary.
Fagbemi, therefore, prayed the apex court to set aside the decision of the trial court barring APC from fielding candidates for the general elections.
But, Mr Henry Bello, Counsel to Umah and others, had urged the court to discountenance argument canvassed by Fagbemi, adding that the submissions were strange in law.
He said that the call for the court to invoke Section 22 of Supreme Court Act to hear the matter as a first court of trial was a temptation to usurp the powers of the Court of Appeal.
According to him, such prayer should be rejected.
Bello argued that his clients were bonafide members of the APC in Rivers who were prevented from participating in the process leading to the party’s congresses and election of delegates for the general elections.
He said that the action filed by his clients at the trial court was a pre-election issue, adding that the appellant was left with nothing else to do in the matter.
Bello said that the parties had had a consensual judgment on the matter, and that the present appeal was a mere academic activity.
He argued that Section 87(9) of the Electoral Act conferred jurisdiction on the trial court.
He also said that the Feb. 8 decision of the apex court affirming the judgment of the trial court brought an end to the litigation.
Bello had, therefore, prayed the court to dismiss the appeal for lacking in merit. (NAN)