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Edo APC Can Hold Direct Primary, Appeal Court Rules

The Appeal Court sitting in Benin on Thursday cleared the way for the All Progressives Congress, APC, to conduct its primary election adopting the direct mode to select its governorship candidate for the September 19, 2020 gubernatorial poll in Edo State. By this decision,  the appellate court has set aside the June 8, 2020 order of the Federal High Court, FHC, Benin restraining APC from holding its governorship primary using the direct mode.

The Appeal Court also ordered the continuation of the trial at FHC, which holds Friday morning. The Governor Godwin Obaseki-led faction of the APC had dragged the party to court to stop it from adopting the direct mode of primary citing COVID-19. 

In a split decision by a three-man panel of the court with  Justice Morenike Ogunwunmiju presiding, the court, with two for and one against, described as problematic  the order by Justice Mohammed Umar of the FHC, Benin in the appeals by the APC and it’s now suspended national chairman,  Adam’s Oshiomhole. 
While Justice Sam Oseji agreed with the judgment,  Justice Moore Adumein delivered a dissenting judgment. 

In the lead judgment in the suit by APC, Justice Ogunwunmiju said: “The trial judge (Justice Umar) gave a problematic order that was not sought by the parties to the suit. As at the date (June 8) the order was given, the political party (APC in Edo State) had 14 days to organise its governorship primary election. Every judge must be a democrat”.

She held that “The appellant (APC) was not given an opportunity to be heard by the trial court. The injunctive order of the trial court of June 8 is hereby set aside. The administrative orders subsist and the issue of jurisdiction should be determined by the trial court.”

In his dissenting judgment in the APC’s suit, Justice Adumein declared that the injunctive order of FHC ought not to have been set aside, insisting that the appeal was interlocutory, incompetent and should be struck out.

Adumein noted that the trial court did not make any mistake in the matter, in line with Section 285, Sub-section 8 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, adding that court should not decide cases based on sentiments.

In the second suit filed by Oshiomhole, the only judgment was read by Justice Oseji, who declared that the appeal lacked merit and it was premature, thereby striking it out.

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