It was another legal victory for Mr. Udom Emmanuel as a Federal Capital Territory High Court sitting in Jabi, Abuja, yesterday dismissed another suit which had sought to nullify the election of Mr. Emmanuel as the Governor of Akwa Ibom State.
The FCT High Court presided over by Justice Halilu held that the FCT High Court lacked jurisdiction to entertain a pre-election matter which had taken place in Akwa Ibom State and consequently dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction.
A gubernatorial aspirant in Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Ime Effiong Ekanem, acting for himself and other aspirants under the aegis of G22 had gone to court after the Akwa Ibom State gubernatorial primaries and obtained an injunction that Mr. Emmanuel’s name should not be forwarded to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for Akwa Ibom State. Even though the injunction was later vacated by the Court to offer a temporary reprieve for Mr. Emmanuel, the plaintiff had insisted that the Court should disqualify him.
Ruling on the substantive suit, Justice Halilu, adopted a sole issue for determination to wit: “Whether the Honourable Court had the requisite jurisdiction to entertain the Suit, same having emanated from the conduct of a Primary election conducted in Akwa Ibom State”
In resolving issue, the Judge held that it was the Statutes that conferred jurisdiction on a Court and not the Rules of Court as erroneously argued by the Plaintiff in his written address.
According to the Court, since it was the Plaintiff’s claims before the Court that was to be examined in assuming jurisdiction, upon an examination of the Plaintiff’s claims, it was not in doubt that the subject matter of the Suit was the propriety or otherwise of the conduct of a primary election which took place in Akwa Ibom State and same did not fall within the territorial jurisdiction of the Court as conferred on it by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria being the Statue conferring jurisdiction on the Court.
According to the Court, the only effect of the provisions of of the FCT High Court Rules was only to determine matters within the judicial division of the FCT High Court where the Defendants are resident and not to donate jurisdiction to the FCT High Court where it obviously lacked jurisdiction.
Furthermore, Justice Halilu relied heavily on the Supreme Court decision in Dalhatu v Turaki (2003) cited by Paul Usoro (SAN), Counsel to Mr Emmanuel, to hold that if there is any State High Court that had jurisdiction to entertain the Suit, it was the Akwa Ibom State High Court, the cause of action having emanated from Akwa Ibom State.
The Court rejected the submissions of the Plaintiff’s Counsel, Rickey Tarfa (SAN) and upheld the submissions of Mr. Emmanuel’s Counsel. The Court consequently struck out the Suit for lack of jurisdiction and made no order as to cost.