Reportet : CHRISTIAN NWANGENE
The Court of Appeal in Enugu has dismissed the appeal filed by African Peoples Alliance, APA, against the Attorney General of the Federation and the President of the Court of Appeal challenging payments to be made by litigants for prosecution of election petitions.
The appeal by African Peoples Alliance, APA, through its counsel, Mr. Chukwunonso Daniel Ogbe, specifically challenged the powers of the President of Court of Appeal to frame the provisions of paragraphs 3 and 4 of the Election Tribunal and Court Practice Direction of 2011.
The said paragraphs and the Court Practice Direction make it mandatory for candidates of political parties who seek to initiate an election petition for the purpose of challenging an election conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to make a deposit of four hundred thousand Naira as security for costs before they can file such election petition.
The suit by APA followed the inability of some of its candidates, who participated in the 2015 general election in Enugu State, to file petitions at the Election Petition Tribunal to challenge the outcome of the 2015 general election as they could not afford the four hundred thousand Naira.
In a judgment delivered by a three man panel of the Court of Appeal and read by Justice Joseph Olubunmi Kayode Oyewole, the Court of Appeal affirmed the October 2017 decision of a Federal High Court in Enugu, which dismissed the appeal on the ground that the suit of the appellant was hypothetical and academic, adding that the tenure of those elected in 2015, for which the petition would have challenged their election, had expired.
The Appeal Court noted the appellant failed to lead evidence to show that he was prevented from litigating any electoral grievance by virtue of the provisions of Paragraphs 3 and 4 of the Election Tribunal and Court Practice Direction of 2011, which would have translated its case from the virtual realm to the terrestrial.
Justice also Oyewole stated that Public Interest Litigations were desirable to challenge the status quo and expand the frontiers of dividends derivable by the citizenry from the state, but that such litigations must be predicated on genuine disputes and not hypothetical circumstances.
In a reaction, the defense Counsel, Mr. Goodnews Nwaigwe, expressed satisfaction with judgement of the Court.
However, lead counsel to APA, Mr. Chukwunonso Daniel Ogbe, noted that inasmuch as the judgment of the Court of Appeal went against his client, that the provisions of Paragraphs 3 and 4 of the Election Tribunal and Court Practice Direction of 2011 were a threat to the growth of democracy and good governance in Nigeria, as they prevented men of modest means from ventilating electoral grievances in Court.
Mr. Ogbe noted that he had to confer with his client in order to know the whether or not there would be a further appeal of the judgment at the Supreme Court.