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Court Shuts out UPN from Participating in Presidential Election
Court grants ex-boxer bail

Court Shuts out UPN from Participating in Presidential Election

A Federal High Court in Lagos Tuesday shut out the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) from participating in this week’s presidential election.

The trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, while ruling on the motion to join the All Progressives Congress (APC) which was seeking to be joined as a co-defendant in the UPN’s suit, held that assuming without deciding that the suit succeeds, the implication would be that all the electoral materials already printed and distributed by INEC in preparation for the elections would have to be destroyed and new ones printed.

UPN had filed the suit to compel the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to list candidates of the party for March 28 and April 11 elections.

But the APC filed a motion, seeking to be joined as co-defendants.
In his ruling, the judge  pointed out that the suit was filed by UPN on February 25 after the postponement of the initial February 14 presidential election date, and that the suit came up for the first time in court on March 6, a period of 21 days to the rescheduled presidential election.

“The applicant (UPN) cannot create problem for this court and indeed the entire country. The court cannot command the impossible. The plaintiffs cannot file this suit 21 days to the election and expect that it must be heard and judgment delivered before the election.

“Even though the plaintiffs have no claim against the APC, but the outcome of this suit will affect the party because it is about an election which the party is participating.

“This is a pre-election matter and it can be heard after the election,” Justice Abang ruled.

The judge also granted a motion filed by the APC seeking to be joined as a co-defendant in the

He also granted a similar suit filed by the APC’s presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari seeking to be joined as a co-defendant to the suit.

The judge then ordered that APC and Buhari should be joined as second and third defendants respectively in the suit.

The judge also ordered the plaintiffs to amend the processes in the suit to reflect the additional defendants and serve same on the parties within three days.

The matter was subsequently adjourned to May 6, 2015 for hearing.

By implication, the elections can now go on as scheduled.

In a brief response, Buhari’s lawyer, Wole Olanipekun (SAN) commended Justice Abang for the ruling, saying the court had made a statement to those playing game that the judiciary “cannot be used to scuttle Nigeria’s democracy.”

But UPN’s lawyer, Akinwale Ekunnisi urged the court to discountenance Olanipekun’s allegation, adding that the UPN had every right as a political party to participate in an election.

“My Lord, I need to correct the wrong impression just created by the learned silk. We are not being used to scuttle the election. We are only in court to enforce our rights,” he said.

While arguing the application for joinder, APC’s lawyer, Emeka Ngige (SAN) had stated that the UPN’s suit was filed on February 25, after the initial dates of the elections were postponed.

“The implication, if the UPN’s prayer is granted, is that ballot papers and other electoral materials already printed and distributed ahead of the election, would have to be destroyed and new ones printed.

“We are in a race and we are ready to go but someone is trying to draw us back. What we are saying is that time is of the essence because election must be conducted at least 30 days before the end of the tenure of an incumbent administration,” Ngige stressed.

The lawyer also drew the court’s attention to a statement issued by the UPN adopting President Goodluck Jonathan as the candidate of the party for the presidential election.

He also urged the court to take judicial notice of a letter written by the UPN to INEC stating that the party was engrossed in internal crisis.

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