Supreme Court upholds Ayade’s nomination for 2015 Election

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The Supreme Court yesterday upheld the nomination of Cross River State Governor Ben Ayade by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the April last year governorship election.

The apex court held that Ayade was validly nominated by his party- PDP- and consequently dismissed the appeal filed by Joe Agi (SAN), who was also a PDP aspirant.

In the lead judgment delivered by Justice Binta Clara Ogunbiyi, the court maintained that the issue of criminality or forgery of age declaration brought by the appellant against the governor was not proved beyond reasonable doubt, as required by law.

The court further held that the discrepancy in the two age declarations, which bore March 2, 1968 and March 2, 1969 was not intended to cheat, based on Section 177 of 1999 Constitution, which put the mandatory age for a governorship candidate at 35.

The apex court held that from whichever angle the two age declarations were looked at, Ayade was either 10 or 11 years over and above the mandatory age.

Justice Ogunbiyi further ruled that from whatever angle the allegation of forgery of age declaration against Ayade was weighed, it is criminality in nature and must be so treated.

This was considering the fact that the appellant had written to the Police on the issue, prompting it to write the authority of the University of Ibadan to demand Ayade’s bio-data in their investigation on the criminal allegation leveled by the appellant.

Justice Ogunbiyi held that the turning round by the appellant to claim that he did not make criminal allegation against the respondent could not hold water in the face of the petition he wrote to the Inspector General of Police.

The court further held that the appellant raised criminality against the governor and failed to discharge the burden of proving the allegation beyond reasonable doubt, as required by law, because he did not lead any evidence that the age declaration was done to detriment of the 1999 Constitution.

The Justice said: “The appellant in this case, is saddled with the burden of proving which of the two age declarations allegedly made by the governor was right for forgery or falsification to be sustained. Forgery cannot be established in the absent of the original.”

The court added that the issue of membership of PDP, which was raised by Agi against Ayade and the alleged failure to pay membership fee was an internal affairs of a party, which no court of law will enquire into.

Justice Ogunbiyi noted that it was a settled law that when the National Working Committee (NWC) of a party cleared an aspirant for a primary election, it is not the duty of a court to begin to enquire into that, since it is a domestic affair of such a party.

The apex court said payment of party membership dues was not one of the conditions for nomination of a candidate, as erroneously claimed by the appellant.

It also said the appellant, having sworn on oath to abide with the decision of the PDP NWC on the nomination of candidate by the party, cannot turn around against the party with court action to jettison his earlier oath to abide with the party supremacy.

In the unanimous judgment, the appeal of Agi was dismissed for lacking in merit, while the nomination of Ayade was upheld on the ground that it was properly and lawfully done by PDP.

In this article:
Ben AyadeJoe AgiPDP


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