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SDP presidential ticket: Court sacks Duke, declares Gana winner

SDP presidential ticket: Court sacks Duke, declares Gana winner

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Godwin Tsa, Abuja

A Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court sitting in Maitama, has declared a former Minister of Information, Prof. Jerry Gana, the presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the 2019 election.

The court consequently ordered Donald Duke to stop parading himself as the party’s presidential candidate of the part in the forthcoming election.

‎The court gave the declaratory order in its judgment, holding that Gana was the winner of the presidential primary election of the party conducted on October 6, 2018.

Before the judgment, the SDP had declared the former governor of Cross River State, Mr. Duke, the winner of the election and its flag bearer in the 2019 presidential election.

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The party said that Duke polled 812 votes as against the 611 votes garnered by Gana.

Not satisfied, Prof. Gana approached the court with a suit seeking to be declared the winner in line with the zoning and rotation formula of the party’s constitution.

He joined the SDP, its National Chairman, Olu Falae; National Secretary, Shehu Musa Gabam; Chairman, SDP Presidential Screening Panel/ Deputy National Chairman, South, Prof. Tunde Adeniran, Duke and INEC as defendants in the suit.

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

It was also the position of the court that the zoning and rotation formula, as contained in the party’s constitution, stipulates that both the chairman of the party and the flag bearer should not come from the same zone.

In this instance, the party’s chairman, Olu Falae, is from the South and Duke is from the South too. The law is clear; there is nothing to write in-between.

“The law has crystallised that political parties should abide by the regulations which they have made by themselves.

“The claimant laid sufficient evidence to have the judgment in his favour. It is a clear violation of the party’s constitution. The court cannot waive right over illegality,” he held.

The judge, therefore, declared Gana the winner of SDP presidential primary election conducted on October 6.

He also declared Duke’s 812 votes null and void, and ordered SDP to forward Gana’s name to the INEC as the party’s flag bearer in the 2019 presidential election.

Gana sought a declaration that Duke was not eligible to stand as a candidate in the party’s presidential primaries held on October 6 in Abuja.

He also sought a declaration of the court that he ought to have been declared the winner of the SDP presidential primary election, having polled the highest valid votes in the said election.

The former minister wanted an order of the court declaring him the validly-elected flag bearer of the party for the 2019 General Election.

Gana also sought a perpetual injunction restraining Duke from parading himself as the SDP presidential candidate for the elections, among other reliefs.

He had argued that under Article 15(3) of the SDP Constitution, the office of the national chairman of the party and the presidential candidacy shall rotate between the northern and southern parts of the country.

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