The Young Democratic Party (YDP) has approached the Abuja division of the Federal High Court seeking an order declaring the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States as null and void.
The party is further seeking an order of the court directing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct fresh governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States and allowing it to use its new adopted logo which is an electric bulb in the fresh polls.
In an originating summon filed before the court, the party is urging the court to declare that the gubernatorial elections conducted in Edo and Ondo states on the 28th day of September, 2016 and the 26th day of November, 2016 without its new logo (that is, ‘electric bulb’), is null and void.
Besides, the party in the suit filed by Gordy Uche (SAN) is further urging the court for an order restraining INEC from allotting its adopted logo or symbol being an ‘electric bulb’ to any other party or Association.
The new logo of the party was adopted at its National convention held in November 14, 2014, where INEC was dully notified on October 20, 2014.
Besides, INEC on October 20, 2014, acknowledged the receipt of the letter notifying it of the party’s National Convention were delegates adopted the party’s new logo,(an electric bulb) on same day.
Young Democratic Party was deemed registered by the provisions of the Electoral Act, on May 2, 2014 by the judgment of the Federal High Court which was affirmed by the Court of Appeal.
Meaning that whatever acts/ activity and decision, taken or carried out by the party from May 2, 2014 till date is legal in the eye of the law.
The suit is also asking the court to declare that by virtue and considering the provisions of the Electoral Act as amended, particularly section 82, and also considering the Plaintiff’s letter to the defendant titled ‘New Logo and Replacement of Party Constitution’ and dated the 3rd of February 2016 which was received by the defendants on the 5th of February 2016, the Defendant has no right whatsoever to deny the Plaintiff the continued use of its new logo after initially accepting same and uploading same on its website, and also considering the fact that the said logo has never been registered or used by any registered Political party.
The plaintiff further prayed the court for a declaration that considering the provisions of Section 82 subsection 2 (a) and (b) of the Electoral Act, the defendant cannot by virtue of its letter to the plaintiff dated the 15th of July 2016 deny the Plaintiff the continued use of its new logo on the premise that an Association in the process of registration being not a registered political party is planning to use the said logo as such exception as of ‘ an association under processing for registration as a Political Party’ is not contemplated under section 82 subsection 2 (a) and (b) of the Electoral Act.
In addition to the above declaratory reliefs, the party is further asking for a declaration that considering the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 particularly section 44, and also considering the Plaintiff’s letters to the defendant dated 3rd of February 2016, 16th of June 2016, 20th of June 2016, 19th of August 2016 and 26th of August 2016 the Defendant is bound to include the adopted logo of the Plaintiff in the ballot papers for the gubernatorial election in Edo state, and indeed in any other election in Nigeria.
It is the contention of the plaintiff that considering section 82 subsection 2 (a) and (b), and also considering the defendant’s letter to the plaintiff dated 15th of July 2016, an Association in the process of registration which has not been registered and consequently given a certificate of registration is totally different from a registered political party with its certificate of registration as contemplated within the provisions of section 82 subsection 2 (a) and (b) of the Electoral Act 2010.
Besides the substantive suit, the plaintiff has filed an application seeking to amend its originating processes earlier filed in the suit and an order deeming the proposed amended process as true and correct process.
In a supporting affidavit deposed to by Amb.Raphael Sebibo Horsfall, the Acting National Chairman of the party, the plaintiff averred that the Plaintiff/Applicant wishes to amend its originating processes to reflect the new issues arising.
That this amendment will not prejudice the Defendant/Respondent in anyway whatsoever and that it will be in the interest of justice to grant this application.
In its supporting affidavit deposed to by the Acting National Chairman of the party, Amb.Raphael Sebibo Horsfall, he averred that the plaintiff wrote a letter to the defendant for its logo or symbol to be changed from a tractor to an electric bulb via a letter dated the 3rd of February 2016.
He further averred that pursuant to the above, INEC immediately changed and uploaded the new and adopted logo of the Plaintiff being an electric bulb on its official website which is www.inecnigeria.org from February 2016.
That following the said upload and acceptance of the electric bulb logo of the plaintiff by the defendant, the plaintiff began its sensitization and membership drive based on its new logo founded on its ‘light’ philosophy. The slogan of the plaintiff is the ‘the light has come’.
That the plaintiff had very many correspondences across Nigeria with its new logo. Indeed, from March 2016 till date, the plaintiff started communicating with the defendant with its new logo on its letter headed paper without any objection from the defendant.
That sometime in June 2016, the defendant owing to some internal party disputes brought down the uploaded new logo of the plaintiff and replaced with the old logo together with the initial executives of the party.
The deponent further averred that the defendant however intervened in the internal wrangling in the plaintiff party and subsequently uploaded the new logo of the party as well as the Executives of the party on its official website after initially uploading only the new logo and the old Executives.
He told the court that the plaintiff had written a letter dated the 16th of June 2016 thanking the defendant for intervening in the internal dispute in the party and subsequently re-uploading the new logo but urging the defendant to upload the existing National Executives on its website.
That it was however shocking and unbelievable that sometime in the same June 2016 the defendant for some mysterious reasons wrongfully removed the said logo of the plaintiff being an electric bulb, from its official website aforesaid and replaced/changed it with the plaintiff’s old logo being a tractor.
That in the same June the plaintiff wrote a letter of complaint to the defendant titled, “LETTER OF COMPLAINT ON THE WRONGFUL CHANGE OF OUR PARTY LOGO”.
That the plaintiff had since February 2016 spent lots of funds in printing of thousands of membership forms, membership cards, posters, fliers, handbills, banners, branding of vehicles, letter headed papers, complementary cards, sign boards across the Nation, expression of interest forms and some other documents.
That the plaintiff have since March 2016 and up till now, preparatory to upcoming polls been educating its party faithful across the Nation particularly in Edo and Ondo state respectively as to what to see in the ballot paper as the party logo which is an electric bulb.
That the plaintiff having received its Certificate of registration in January 2016, began massive membership drive from March 2016 on all fronts including on social media and town hall meetings using the new logo.
That all members of the party including those in the diaspora are only acquainted with the electric bulb as the logo of the plaintiff. At present all the ideals of the party stem from the party’ new logo.
That notwithstanding the letters of complaint by the plaintiff to the defendant dated the 6th and 20th of June 2016, the defendant refused, ignored and/or failed to upload the new logo of the plaintiff and no reason whatsoever was advanced to the plaintiff by the defendant for such mysterious refusal.
That after consistent pressure from the plaintiff including visits by some of the plaintiff’s National Officers to the defendant’s office, the defendant replied and wrote a letter to the plaintiff alleging strangely that the logo as adopted by the plaintiff although previously accepted by the defendant, offends section 82 (2) A and B of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended.
That I know that section 82 subsection 2 (a) and (b) deals with an already registered political party and not a party under processing for registration.
That Young Democratic Party, the plaintiff is a fully registered political party in Nigeria.
That the electric bulb being the logo of the plaintiff has never been and is not a registered logo for any already registered political party in Nigeria other than the plaintiff. The said logo was not a registered logo for any already registered political party between 5th of February 2016 till 15th of July 2016.
That the Association under processing for registration as a political party as referred in Exhibit E3 is not a registered political party in Nigeria, and was not a registered political at any time between 5th of February 2016 till 15th of July 2016.
That the plaintiff wrote a letter to the defendant demanding that the needful be done, the said letter dated the 19th of August 2016, and titled “ THE NECESSITY TO DO THE NEEDFUL, RE; LOGO MATTER” is attached hereto and marked Exhibit F1.
That the letter dated the 19th August 2016 fell on deaf ears as the defendant refused and ignored to upload the logo of the plaintiff.
That the plaintiff also wrote another letter dated the 27th of August 2016 notifying the defendant that it will seek legal redress as it affects its interest in Edo gubernatorial elections, and indeed all other elections in Nigeria.
That the plaintiff held its primaries and has its candidates for the just concluded Edo and Ondo gubernatorial elections which took place on the 28th September and 26th November 2016 respectively.
That the whole party has been campaigning with the electric bulb as the logo of the plaintiff.
That some plaintiff’s members who are internet friendly are getting confused on the uploading of wrong logo by the defendant whereas the plaintiff’s gubernatorial candidates for the Edo and Ondo elections and indeed all other party members vigorously campaigned with the electric bulb being the adopted logo of the plaintiff.
That the Plaintiff was duly invited by the Defendant to participate in the Edo and Ondo states gubernatorial elections respectively.
That on the 12th day of July, 2016, the Plaintiff with its letter headed paper containing the new logo (electric bulb) submitted the names of its candidates for the Edo and Ondo state gubernatorial elections and same was equally received by the Defendant.
That on the 15th day of July, 2016, the Defendant conveyed the approval of the Plaintiff’s final reconciled list of its National Executive Council that was sent to the Defendant on the letter headed paper of the Plaintiff bearing the ‘electric bulb’.
That the plaintiff have suffered and will continue to suffer undue hardship, unfairness, loss of funds, membership loss, confusion, non-participation in future elections, unless this Honourable court grants the reliefs sought.
That the Plaintiff’s logo being ‘electric bulb’ was not used in the Edo and Ondo gubernatorial elections held on the 28th day of September, 2016 and the Ondo state gubernatorial election held on the 26th day of November, 2016.
Going by the documents and materials placed before the court, INEC seems to be in a very tight corner with respect to the reliefs sought by the plaintiffs.