Nigeria: The Appeal Court on Thursday set aside the ruling of an FCT High Court which stopped Donald Duke from parading himself as the Presidential Candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
The three-man panel led by Justice Abdul Aboki held that the application is illegal and unconstitutional, which ought not to have been entertained by the lower court.
The court held that the position of the former Minister of Information, Professor Jerry Gana in section 18 of the party’s amended constitution contravenes the Electoral Acts stipulation for the validity of a candidate in any election.
The court also held that the amendment relied upon by professor Gana did not take effect until October 8, 2018, two days after its ratification and the election of Mr Duke as the party’s candidate in line with section 222 of the Electoral Act.
An High court sitting in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja had on December 14, 2018, declared Professor Gana, as the winner of the presidential primary of the SDP.
READ ALSO: Court Declares Jerry Gana As SDP Presidential Candidate, Sacks Donald Duke
Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf made the declaration on Friday in his ruling and nullified the candidacy of former Cross River State Governor, Donald Duke, as the party’s flagbearer.
Hours after the judgement, Professor Gana commended the ruling of the court while addressing a news conference elsewhere in the nation’s capital.
According to him, the verdict of the court is a victory for democracy and party politics as the culture of imposition of candidates by political parties is no longer fashionable.
The former minister said he was in full support of the peace accord initiated by the National Peace Committee led by General Abdulsalami Abubakar.
He added that he was ever prepared for a peaceful process in the forthcoming general elections.
Duke described the Appellate Court’s decision as an “interpretation of law”.
“What happened at the lower court could be described as a political judgement. What happened at the Appeal Court was the interpretation of the law,” he said.
His comments come amid the lingering crisis over who flies the party’s flag during next month’s presidential election.
Duke had emerged the SDP’s presidential candidate after polling 812 votes to beat his closest rival and former Information Minister, Professor Jerry Gana, who polled 611, during the party’s primary which held on October 6, 2018,
Dissatisfied with the outcome, Gana approached an Abuja High Court in November to disqualify Duke as the party’s presidential candidate.
Consequently, he got respite on December 14 when the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court declared him the winner of the party’s presidential primary.
Duke, however, appealed the ruling.
On Thursday, the Appeal Court ruled in his favour by overturning the ruling of the FCT court that disqualified him as the party’s presidential candidate.
The former Cross River Governor, therefore, appealed to aggrieved members of the party to sheathe their swords and work for their victory at the general elections.
“You cannot get a 100 per cent support. It’s left for me to show leadership, to bring them onboard and reach out to Professor Gana and appeal to him so that we can come together and see a larger picture which is our party and the nation.
“I am doing that. I did that on October 7 and I am doing it again. Leadership is conciliatory and working together, building bridges. He may be hurt, but it gets to a point where pursuing interests works contrary to the larger interests.
“And I think we have gotten to that point. We have 23 days to the elections. There is hardly enough time to sell our views to the nation,” he said.