Ade Adesomoju, Abuja
A governorship aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress in Delta State, Chief Sunny Ofehe, has filed a suit before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Maitama, Abuja, asking for an order perpetually restraining the party from continuing with the sale of nomination and expression of interest forms at exorbitant fees.
On Wednesday, he filed his suit marked CV/2717/18 to challenge the “imposition” of the fees on aspirants and sought an order of the court directing the party to revert to the old regime of fees.
He joined the APC and its National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, as the first and second defendants, respectively.
The plaintiff filed the suit only few weeks to the party’s primaries to determine its candidates for various public offices ahead of the 2019 elections.
Ofehe, who stated that he had built political structures across Delta State in his bid to actualise his governorship aspiration in the 2019 elections, described the sum of N22.5m imposed by the APC on governorship aspirants as “unreasonable, huge, excessive and prohibitive”.
He argued that “the increase of the fees of the expression of interest and nomination forms from original N500, 000 and N5m to N2.5m and N20m, respectively” was “oppressive”.
He filed alongside the main suit, an ex parte application seeking an order of interim injunction restraining the APC and Oshiomhole from “implementing, collecting or further collecting” the sum of N22.5m as the fees for nomination and expression of interest forms for the governorship position.
He also sought another order of interim injunction “stopping aspirants for the scheduled APC party primaries in Delta State from returning or further returning the collected nomination and expression of interest forms.”
He also asked the court to restrain the defendants from further receiving “the already collected forms from governorship aspirants in Delta State.”
Ofehe urged the court to grant the interim orders of injunction pending the hearing of his motion on notice in which he also prayed for the same pronouncements that would last pending the hearing of the substantive suit.
In his affidavit of urgency which he also filed alongside the main suit and the ex parte application, Ofehe stated that “it would be in the interest of justice to hear the matter expeditiously” because “the return of the forms has been fixed for Wednesday, September 12, 2018.”
Ofehe, who said he had “printed posters, consulted widely, recruited ad hoc and permanent staff, engaged agents, provided administrative and campaign offices across the state”, said he would be foreclosed from participating in the process if the case was not assigned and heard urgently.
The plaintiff argued that by virtue of the provision of Article 13 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, the imposition of the allegedly exorbitant fees had precluded or foreclosed him from freely participating in the government of his country and Delta State.
His lead counsel, Mr Malachy Ugwummadu, who filed the suit on his behalf, asked the court to declare, among others, “that the imposition of the excessive sum of N22, 500,000 as fees for expression of interest and nomination forms for governorship position in the primaries of the 1st defendant (APC) is oppressive, discriminatory, exclusionary, illegal, unconstitutional and therefore, null and void.”
He also asked the court to declare “that the trend and practice of imposition of huge, prohibitive and excessive charges and fees on political office aspirants including the plaintiff is the provenance of corruption in Nigerian politics.”
The case has yet to be assigned to any judge.
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