The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja on Thursday declared former Cross River State Governor Donald Duke, as the authentic presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
The three-man panel, led by Justice Abdul Aboki, in a unanimous decision set aside the Dec. 14, 2018 judgment of an FCT High Court which had declared Jerry Gana the candidate of the party.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the youth wing of the party had given a 24-hour ultimatum to the party to send the name of Gana, to INEC as its presidential candidate.
An FCT High Court seven weeks ago declared a former Minister of Information, Prof. Jerry Gana, the winner of the presidential primary election of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) conducted on Oct.6.
The party had declared a former Governor of Cross River, Mr Donald Duke, the winner of the election and its flag bearer for the 2019 General Elections.
The party said that Duke polled 812 votes while Gana had 611.
However, Gana went to court seeking that it would declare him the winner in line with the zoning and rotation formula of the party’s constitution.
In his judgement, Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf held that the regulations contained in the party’s constitution were binding on every member and must be obeyed.
He held that the zoning and rotation formula as contained in the party’s constitution stipulated that both the chairman of the party and the flag bearer should not come from the same zone.
“In this instance, the party’s Chairman, Chief Olu Falae, is from the South and Duke is from the South too; the law is clear; there is nothing to write in-between.
“The law has crystallised that political parties should abide by the regulations which they have made by themselves.
“The claimant laid sufficient evidence to have the judgment in his favour; it is a clear violation of the party’s constitution; the court cannot wave right over illegality,” he held.
The judge, therefore, declared Gana the winner of SDP presidential primary election conducted on Oct. 6.
He also declared Duke’s 812 votes null and void, and ordered SDP to forward Gana’s name to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the party’s flag bearer for the 2019 presidential election.
In addition, he ordered that Duke should stop parading himself as the party’s flag bearer for the elections.
Gana had joined SDP, its National Chairman, Chief Olu Falae; National Secretary, Alhaji Shehu Musa Gabam; Chairman, SDP Presidential Screening Panel/ Deputy National Chairman, South, Prof. Tunde Adeniran; Duke and INEC as defendants in the suit.
Gana sought a declaration that Duke was not eligible to stand as a candidate in the party’s presidential primaries held on Oct. 6, in Abuja.
He also sought a declaration of the court that he ought to have been declared the winner of the SDP presidential primary election, having polled the highest valid votes in the said election.
The former minister wanted an order of the court declaring him the validly elected flag bearer of the party for the 2019 General Elections.
Gana also sought a perpetual injunction restraining Duke from parading himself as the SDP presidential candidate for the elections, among other reliefs.
He had argued that under Article 15(3) of the SDP Constitution, the office of the national chairman of the party and the presidential candidacy shall rotate between the northern and southern parts of the country.
Reports by NAN