PDP Presidential Primary Atiku goes to court

Strong indications emerged yesterday that former vice president Atiku Abubakar may be heading for the law court following the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)’s alleged indifference to his petition to challenge the outcome of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential primary.

Atiku lost the PDP presidential ticket on January 13 to President Goodluck Jonathan. He ruled out heading to court to challenge the outcome of the primaries. Instead he wrote a petition dated January 28, 2011 to INEC, which became a subject of controversy as the electoral body belatedly acknowledged the petition last Monday.

It was however gathered that following INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega’s charge to Atiku to go take his case to court, the former vice president may have given the go ahead to his legal team to begin court action on the matter.
Atiku’s bid to return to court received impetus from two recent court decisions by Justices Lawal Gumi and Ishaq Usman Bello, both of the Abuja High Court, who, in separate decisions upheld the sanctity of zoning and ruled that it was justiciable.

In the particular decision by Justice Bello, his opinion was that the suit challenging the President, Goodluck Jonathan’s right to run was premature since, at that time, the Peoples Democratic Party had not yet given him its ticket.
He added that a candidate in the primaries had a right to challenge Jonathan and the Party in court in the event of any such breach of the PDP zoning policy.

Sources said yesterday that the legal team led by a very senior advocate (SAN) of the Nigerian bar may file proceedings in court against President Goodluck Jonathan’s candidature in the coming days. They are of the view that Atiku will have a good day in court.

It was gathered that the former vice president had up to this point warded off pressures to take legal action over the outcome of the PDP convention, but INEC’S “lack of interest and partisanship” in the handling of the petition he submitted to them, may have pushed the former vice president to the wall.
“How can Jega’s INEC claim to be enforcing internal democracy in Kano CPC on account of its monitoring of the primaries and then turn around to refer to Atiku’s complaints as internal party affairs,” a source close to Atiku’s lawyer queried.

The source said INEC’s dismissal of the Atiku’s petition after weeks of being in denial of the existence of the petition entitled “petition against illegalities of the conduct of the PDP presidential primary election on 13th january, 2011” amounts to double standard.

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