Court urged to stop APC’s ‘exorbitant fees’
…Party member claims huge fees hamper citizens’ right to parcipate in governance
The High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja has been urged to declare as unlawful the decision of the ruling All Progressives Party (APC) to charge “exorbitant fees” for forms for elective positions.
The court is equally asked to restrain the APC from further selling its nomination and expression of interest forms at the current fees on the grounds that such huge cost hampers citizens’ right to participate in election and governance processes.
The above form part of the prayers in a suit filed on Wednesday by an aggrieved member of the APC in Delta State, Chief Sunny Ofehe, who said he planned to contest the state’s governorship seat on the platform of the APC.
The suit marked: CV/2717/18, filed by Ofehe’s lawyer, Malachy Ugwummadu, has the APC and its National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, as defendants.
Ofehe, who stated that he had built political structures across the state in his bid to actualise his governorship aspiration in the 2019 election, 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 existing N500,000 and N5m to N2.5m and N20m, respectively” was “oppressive”.
Ofehe further argued that by virtue of Article 2,9(i), 9(9.3) of the APC constitution 2014 (as amended) and sections 176 and 177 of the Nigerian Constitution, he is, being a bonafide member of the party, qualified to seek nomination for the governorship position of Delta State on the platform of the APC.
He equally argued that by virtue of sections 40, 42 (1) (2) of the Nigerian Constitution, and more particularly section 87(3) of the Electoral Act 2010, the court “is sufficiently vested with both the vires and jurisdiction to guarantee that the plaintiff is accorded equal and unfettered access and opportunity to belong, associate and participate in the affairs of the1st defendant”.
In an affidavit of urgency he filed with the suit, 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, engaged agents, provided administrative and campaign offices across the state”, 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.
The plaintiff wants the court to declare the fees as “oppressive, discriminatory, exclusionary, illegal, unconstitutional and therefore, null and void”.
He also wants the court to declare, among others, “That the imposition of the excessive sum of N22.5m 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.”
Ofehe prayed 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 provenance of corruption in Nigerian politics”.
He also urged the court to make an order “mandating the defendants to revert to the previous and original fees payable for expression of interest and nomination forms for the post of governorship position in the primaries of the 1st defendant”.
The plaintiff is equally seeking “an order of perpetual injunction restraining the 1st defendant from selling, collecting and acting on nomination form for governorship position at the cost of, 22,500,000.
He also wants an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendant from continuing with the sales of nomination form and payment for expression of interest for governorship position in the primaries of the 1st defendant in the exorbitant and unreasonable cost of N22, 500,000.”
Ofehe filed, along with the substantive suit, a motion ex-parte for interim injunctions and a motion on notice for interlocutory injunctions.
Among the interim injunctions, he seeks, include an order of interim injunction restraining the defendants 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 wants an 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 interest forms”.
Ofehe wants the court to restrain the defendants from further receiving “the already collected forms from governorship aspirants in Delta State”.
He urged the court to grant the interim orders of injunction pending the hearing of his motion on notice for interlocutory injunctions.
The case is yet to be assigned for hearing.