A suit seeking to disqualify Peter Obi, the Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate, from participating in the election, has been dismissed by the court of appeal sitting in Abuja.
In a unanimous decision delivered on Wednesday, a three-member panel of justices led by Monica Dongbam-Mensem, the appeal court president, held that the appeal by the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) marked CA/ABJ/CV/1414/2022 lacked merit.
The APM had lodged its appeal contending that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) ought not to have recognised Obi as the LP presidential candidate considering the time he defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and joined the LP.
They argued that the period between when Obi left the PDP and defected to the LP for the purpose of contesting the presidential election, was in violation of section 77(2) and (3) of the Electoral Act, 2022.
They further contended that prior to Obi’s defection, the LP already sent a list of its registered members to INEC.
Consequently, APM urged the appellate court to set aside the judgment of a federal high court in Abuja, which dismissed the suit the party filed to challenge Obi’s candidacy.
The appellate court dismissed the suit on the grounds of sections 29(5), 84(14) and 142 of the Electoral Act, as well as section 285(14) of the constitution, which it said clearly defines a person that can lodge a pre-election case to disqualify a candidate.
The appellate court also held that under section 157 of the Electoral Act, only an aspirant can challenge the nomination of a candidate, and the APM does not qualify as an LP aspirant.
In its ruling, the court said INEC “has done no more than comply with the provisions of the Electoral Act” by publishing Obi’s name as presented by LP.
The appellate court struck out the suit and all the reliefs the party sought before the trial court.
It further awarded a cost of N200,000 each to Obi and the LP.