A federal high court in Abuja has ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to remove the name of Hamza Al-Mustapha as the Action Alliance (AA) presidential candidate in the 2023 general election.
Al-Mustapha won the primary election of the party with a total of 506 votes, defeating Samson Odupitan, his only opponent.
The retired army major and former aide to late Sani Abacha, was declared the party’s candidate at the AA presidential primary held on June 9 in Abuja.
In the judgment delivered on Friday, Zainab Abubakar, presiding judge, also ordered INEC to discountenance all the candidates submitted to it by Kenneth Udeze, factional leader of the party.
The suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1759/2022 was filed on September 30 by the party’s other faction led by Adekunle Omoaje.
Omoaje approached the court to seek redress on the non-recognition of the candidates submitted to INEC by him on behalf of the party.
In the document, INEC was the only respondent.
The electoral commission was not represented in court on November 1 when the matter came up for hearing, neither did they file a counter affidavit.
In the judgment, the court ordered INEC “to upload and display the names of the applicant’s candidates for the 2023 general elections which had been forwarded to the respondent as its candidate for the said general election.”
The party has been in dispute over the national chairmanship position.
However, an FCT high court had on March 28, affirmed Udeze as the party’s national chairman.
Consequently, in compliance with the judgment in suit number FCT/Hc/cv/174| 2022 delivered by Eleojo Enenche, presiding judge, INEC issued a statement on April 13 recognising Udeze as AA national chairman.
Aggrieved by the ruling, Omoaje’s faction went to the court of appeal seeking leave to appeal the FCT high court’s judgment. The application was granted.
However, Udeze’s faction has appealed the appellate court’s ruling before the apex court.
The appeal is still pending.
Reacting to the recent judgment of the federal high court, James Venimbe, national secretary said the party would file an application to stay the execution of the judgment and also appeal the verdict.
He accused the Omoaje-led faction of filing the suit secretly without joining them as parties in the suit.
Venimbe said the judgment was initially fixed for December 7 but he was surprised that the court abridged the time and delivered the judgment on November 4.
Venimbe said when the suit came to their notice, they wrote a letter twice to the judge asking for the certified true copies of the court processes and proceeding to enable them to file an application for joinder. He, however, said the judge refused.
He said they have written a petition against the judge to the chief judge of the federal high court.