Thhe Federal High Court in Abuja has been urged to declare the outcome of the last ward congress held by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Benue State as unlawful.
The request formed a relief in a suit, marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/969/2021, and in which the plaintiffs also want the court to compel the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the APC not to accept any list of Ward Executive other than the consensus list produced at a meeting of all stakeholders held in Makurdi on August 1, 2021, for Otukpo/Ohimini Federal Constituency.
The plaintiffs – Dr Wilson Eche, Bartholomew Alike and Eigege Adejo – who described themselves as chieftains of the APC in Benue, said they are aspiring to contest for various elective positions in the party.
In the suit filed by their lawyer, John Ochogwu, the plaintiffs alleged, among others, that attempt was made to thinker with the consensus ward executive list agreed upon by stakeholders in the state.
The plaintiffs added that the APC duly notified INEC on the planned congresses on July 6, 2021, pursuant to Section 85 of the Electoral Act and that by the notification; INEC was expected to monitor and supervise the conduct of the ward congresses to ensure compliance with relevant laws.
They stated that Muhammad Ali Marshi and Sunday Yusuf Achor were among the APC’s National Officers assigned to conduct the ward congresses in Benue State.
The plaintiffs added that they protested to Senator George Akume, being one of the APC leaders in Benue, following which a meeting was summoned.
The plaintiffs added that they were shocked when, on August 3, 2021, they heard a radio announcement wherein a different list of ward executives was announced, contrary to the consensus agreement of August 1.
Alike, who deposed to the affidavit, stated that he was to serve as a returning officer for the ward congress in Otukpo Local Government Area but his name was replaced by a legislative aide to Blessing Onuh.
The plaintiffs added that based on petitions filed by their counsel, APC set up a National Ward Appeal Committee, headed by Prof. Success Musa and that the committee was yet to make its report public.
The plaintiffs want the court to determine whether, by the combined effect of Section 223 of the 1999 Constitution, Article 30 of the APC Constitution and guidelines for the congresses and Section 85 of the Electoral Act, the ward executive congresses conducted on August 1, 2021, for Otukpo/Ohimini Local Government Area without due regard to the consensus reached on August 1, violated the Constitution of the party and the Electoral Act.
They are also seeking the court’s determination on whether, in the absence of due compliance with Section 223 of the Constitution; Article 20 of the APC’s Constitution and the Electoral Act and the consensus by stakeholders reached on August 1, 2021, the announcement of a different list on a radio station in Otukpo, Benue State is legal, permissible and constitutional.
The plaintiffs urged the court to enter judgment in their favour on the grounds that they will be prejudiced if APC and INEC are allowed to act on the list of ward executives for Otukpo and Ohimini Local Government Area contrary to the consensus reached on August 1.