The Labour Party (LP) has filed an appeal against the ruling of the Federal High Court in Kano, which was presided over by Justice M.N. Yunusa.
In the case numbered FHC/KN/CS/107/2023, brought by Mr. Ibrahim Haruna Ibrahim against the Labour Party and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the court declared all votes cast for LP candidates in Kano, Abia, and other parts of Nigeria as wasted votes.
The court based its decision on the fact that the selection process that led to the emergence of Abia State Governor-elect, Alex Otti, and other LP candidates did not comply with the requirements stated in the 2022 electoral act.
A significant argument made in the lawsuit was the LP’s failure to submit its membership register to INEC at least 30 days prior to their primaries. The court deemed this a violation, thereby nullifying the entire selection process.
The applicant also requested the court to invalidate the Certificate of Return issued to all LP candidates and direct INEC to declare the first runner-up as the winner in all constituencies where the LP emerged victorious.
Justice Yunusa stated, “A party that has not complied with the provisions of the electoral act cannot be considered to have a candidate in an election, and thus, cannot be declared the winner. Therefore, the votes attributed to the first defendant [Labour Party] are wasted votes.” However, the judge declined to order the issuance of a Certificate of Return to any individual in Abia state, stating that “the parties that participated in Abia state are not parties before this court.”
In response to the ruling, LP’s legal counsel, Umeh Kalu SAN, filed an appeal on May 22, urging the court to set aside the judgment of the trial court.
Kalu outlined the grounds for the appeal, arguing that “the trial court erred in law and caused a miscarriage of justice by entertaining a suit that lacked any cause of action.”
He further contended that Section 285 of the 1999 Constitution grants exclusive jurisdiction to Election Tribunals to address complaints related to candidates’ participation and the votes obtained during a general election.