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Court sacks Duke as SDP presidential candidate over zoning

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Court sacks Duke as SDP presidential candidate over zoning

An FCT High Court in Maitama has declared former Minister of Information, Jerry Gana, the winner of the presidential primary election of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), thereby making him the presidential candidate for the party.

Backstory: The party had initially declared former governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke, the winner of the election and its flag bearer after Duke polled 812 votes and Gana 611 votes.

However, Gana contested the matter at court, seeking to be declared the winner in line with the zoning and rotation formula of the party’s constitution.

The presiding judge, Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf, held that the regulations contained in the party’s constitution were binding on every member and must be obeyed.

He ruled that the zoning and rotation formula as contained in the party’s constitution stipulated that both the chairman of the party and the flag bearer should not come from the same zone.

Justice Baba-Yusuf said, “In this instance, the party’s Chairman, Chief Olu Falae, is from the South and Duke is from the South too; the law is clear; there is nothing to write in-between.”

He added that “The law has crystallized that political parties should abide by the regulations which they have made by themselves.”

He also said, “The claimant laid sufficient evidence to have the judgment in his favor; it is a clear violation of the party’s constitution; the court cannot wave right over illegality.”

The judge, therefore, declared Gana the winner of SDP presidential primary election conducted on October 6 while also declaring Duke’s 812 votes null and void.

Justice Baba-Yusuf ordered SDP to forward Gana’s name to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the party’s flag bearer for the 2019 presidential election.

In addition, he ordered that Duke should stop parading himself as the party’s flag bearer for the election.

What next? All eyes now on Duke. The candidate is yet to speak on the judgement but is likely to apaal the ruling. With less than two months to the election, this is a big blow.

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