Andy Esiet, Calabar
A Court of Appeal in Abuja, has nullified the judgment of a lower court which propped up Mr Michael Enyong as the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party ((PDP) in Akwa Ibom State.
The Appeal Court in its ruling said the lower court gave the judgement without jurisdiction and mandated Enyong, the 1st Respondent to pay the sum of N1 million in new currency notes to the PDP as damages, warning politicians to desist from abuse of judiciary processes.
Justice Hamma Akawu Barka who read the unanimous judgement of the three man panel today, also dismissed a preliminary objection filed by the Enyong, who faulted the approach used in serving him the notice of appeal.
The PDP had in Appeal CA/ABJ/CV/120/2023 challenged the decision of the lower court to give judgement in favour of Enyong on January 20, 2023.
Michael Enyong had among other things argued that there was an order of Status Quo Ante Bellum in a Federal High Court, which barred the use of Adhoc delegates for the PDP primaries.
But the Appeal court in its judgement recounted that it had on December 7, 2022 entertained an appeal by some persons who claimed to be the Statutory delegates barred from participating in the PDP primaries and the alleged Adhoc delegates were accordingly dismissed as lacking locus to challenge a primary election they never participated, while Umo Eno was adjudged the governorship candidate of the PDP.
The Appeal Court also recounted two other cases, including the appeal by Friday Iwok and 30 others as well as the appeal by Akan Ekpe Okon against Umo Eno, and maintained that in both cases, the Appeal Court decided in favour of Eno as the validly nominated candidate.
It affirmed that it was the right of the PDP “to select a candidate for an election remains the right of the party, and the process is their responsibility.
“The judgement of the lower court is deemed to have been made per incuriam and it had no such jurisdiction to have granted such judgement after knowing that the higher court had earlier validated the nomination of the PDP Governorship Candidate, Pastor Umo Eno.
The Court kicked against the decision of the Lower Court to the effect “that the Plaintiff has successfully proved his case on the preponderance of evidence” and validated the purported illegality of using ad-hoc delegates for the primaries that produced Pastor Umo Eno as the Candidate of the party.
The appeal court held that the decision at the lower court was reached ‘per incuriam’ given the earlier decisions of the appeal court, that validated the Appellant’s Akwa Ibom State primaries that were conducted with the use of ad-hoc delegates only and to the exclusion of statutory delegates.
Paul Usoro, SAN, Offiong Offiong, SAN, Uwemedimo Nwoko, SAN, Ime Edem-Nse, Ikechukwu Duru, Alhassan Mohammed were in court for PDP while the 1st Respondent, Michael Enyong was represented by Barr A. C. Peters and Nyakno Etuk.
The 2nd respondent, INEC was represented by Abdul Mohammed and A Abubakar and they had declined to file any reply to the appeal.
Barr Samuel Ikpo was in court to witness proceedings on behalf of the PDP candidate, Pastor Umo Eno.
The court had previous day dismissed Michael Enyong’s appeal to halt proceedings on the judgement.
The judgment of the Lower Court was consequently declared a nullity and set aside by the appellate court.