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2011: Court clears Atiku

Former vice president Atiku Abubakar on Monday survived two-law suits seeking to stop his presidential ambition.
In the first suit challenging the waiver giving to him by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Justice Ishaq Bello in his judgment threw out the suit describing the plaintiff, Alhaji Sadiq Jada as a meddlesome interloper and busy body who had no legal right to file the action.

In the suit, Jada approached the court for an order of the court to disqualify former vice president Alhaji Atiku Abubakar from contesting the party’s primaries scheduled for this weekend in Abuja.
A member of the party, Alhaji Sadiq Jada dragged the former vice president to court seeking an order disqualifying him from contesting the PDP primaries on the grounds that Atiku was not a card carrying member of the PDP and also added that he was still being investigated by authorities in the United State for alleged fraud.
Justice Bello in his ruling on the objection filed by the PDP and Atiku said the plaintiff had no legal right to approach the court with the suit.

Justice Bello said: “The plaintiff is supposed to show evidence of the claim he made against the respondent.
“I have examined the written submissions of counsel in the matter. The law itself cannot institute proceedings in court. The complaint must relate to the plaintiff’s right, otherwise, the plaintiff will be seen as a busy body. The plaintiff must have a special interest that would adversely be affected.

“The plaintif had said he is a card carrying member of the party.
What is his interest that is above that of other members of the party?
What injury will he suffer if the defendant runs as a candidate?
“This suit portrays the applicant as a busy body since his right has not been directly violated. His right and that of his family have not also been infringed upon.
“The plaintiff constitutes himself as a litigation nuisance. The objection is upheld as the suit which constitute abuse of court process is hereby dismissed.” 

Reacting to the court’s judgement in a statement, Atiku Campaign Organisation in Abuja yesterday hailed the judgement, saying that the court had once again affirmed the existence of zoning in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). It added that the judgement of Federal High Court, Abuja on zoning should be a wakeup call to President Goodluck Jonathan to walk the path of honour and integrity.
The campaign hailed the court for acknowledging that the PDP was bound to observe its own rules and constitution and by extension the zoning arrangement as enshrined in Section 7 (2) (C) of the ruling party’s constitution.
The campaign advised those who were opposing zoning to take heed of Justice Ishaq Bello’s exhortation that political parties must abide by their constitutions, the Electoral Act and the constitution of the country.

Before the ruling was delivered, the PDP through its counsel, Chief Joe Gadzama (SAN) filed an objection, arguing that the primaries of the party was a political question and domestic affairs of the party which the court could not interfere.
He further argued that a member who was aggrieved could only approach the court for redress after the primaries had been conducted.
He described the suit as an abuse of court process and also said the plaintiff had no legal right to file the suit
He said screening of aspirants was a binding duties imposed by the constitution and the Electoral Act.

Counsel to Atiku, Mr. Rickey Tarfa SAN aligned himself with the argument of Gadzama and descirbed the suit as speculative and premature.
He submitted that the plaintiff failed to exhaust the internal mechanism of dispute resolution before coming to court.
Counsel to the plaintiff, Mr. Chukwuma Ekumeru (SAN) urged the court to grant the plaintiff’s reliefs, adding that if the court dismissed the case, the plaintiff’s would have been violated.

He argued that a plaintiff has the right to come to court before and after primaries.
He said Atiku was a fugitive wanted in the United State of America and also added that he was dismissed from the Nigeria Customs Service.
He argued that as a party member, he had the right to ask the party to obey its constitution.

In the second suit, instituted by Bala Takaya praying the court to stop Atiku from being screened as a presidential candidate of the party, Justice Ishaq Bello in dismissing the suit as incompetent said it was premature in nature as the plaintiff had not exhaust the internal mechanism of the party in resolving the matter before coming to court.
He said although the plaintiff had filed a petition against Atiku before the leadership of the party, the party was yet to take a decision on the matter, adding that until that was done, the action before the court was premature.

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