The National Working Committee of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) is to meet and review the Court of Appeal judgment that recognised former Governor of Cross River, Donald Duke, as the presidential candidate of the party in the forthcoming general elections.
The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Alfa Mohammed, disclosed this in Abuja while reacting to the Court of Appeal judgment recognising Mr Duke at the party’s presidential candidate as against the claim by Jerry Gana that he is the authentic candidate of the party.
The Court of Appeal, Abuja division, on Thursday in a unanimous decision returned Duke as the SDP presidential candidate.
The three-man panel of the appellate court in a judgment delivered on the appeal filed by Duke reversed the earlier judgement of an Abuja High Court which upheld Mr Gana as the party’s candidate.
Mr Duke had emerged SDP candidate at the presidential primaries held on October 7, 2018 but Mr Gana,who contested the ticket with Mr Duke, instituted a case against the result at the Federal High Court, Abuja.
On December 14, 2018 the court presided over by Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf delivered judgment in favour of Mr Gana, declaring him as the right SDP candidate and directed the party to forward his name to INEC.
However, when the commission published the full list of cleared presidential and vice presidential candidates of parties on January 17, the column of SDP was blank, with remarks “court order’’ and “party yet to submit name of candidate.”
Mr Mohammed, while reacting to the Court of Appeal judgement on Thursday in Abuja in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) said the right to appeal the ruling at a higher court belonged to Mr Gana and not the party.
“The right to appeal belongs to the candidate like Duke exercised his right to appeal when the first judgment was pronounced.
“So, the right to appeal the case lies with Gana and he will make some pronouncement in the next few hours.”
The national publicity secretary said though there was an attempt by the party to commit the two claimants to the presidential ticket to an agreement against appealing the outcome of the judgment of the court of appeal, Mr Gana did not sign the said agreement.
“According to him, he found it suspicious that the party which did not find it necessary to initiate similar agreement when the matter was at the lower court.
“He questioned why the party should be asking for commitment at the court of appeal stage.
“Meanwhile, the national chairman of the party is expected to summon a National Working Committee meeting within the next 24 hours to review the situation,” he said.
NAN reports that the Gana Presidential Campaign Team led by its Director-General, Ike Neliaku, had on Tuesday decried an alleged bias by the leadership of the SDP against its principal in favour of Duke.
Mr Neliaku frowned at the party’s refusal to submit Mr Gana’s name to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as its presidential candidate as directed by a Federal High Court.
He specifically blamed the SDP National Chairman, Olu Falae, and the National Secretary, Shehu Gabam, for Mr Gana’s travails.
The youth wing of the party also on Tuesday issued a 24-hour ultimatum to Mr Falae to submit Mr Gana’s name to INEC.