Comrade Chika Idoko, a candidate for the African Democratic Congress (ADC) in the 2023 Nigerian general election, has filed a petition with the Chief Justice of the Federation and the National Assembly against one Abubakar Babasoro Esq, the Deputy Court Registrar 2 (DR2) of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, accusing him of impeding his appeal in a case between himself and the Enugu State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party.
After the PDP primaries in 2022, Comrade Idoko went to court to have all PDP candidates in the state disqualified since the party had not submitted its membership registration within the required time frame of 30 days prior to holding its primary, as required by the Electoral Act.
The Federal High Court in Enugu, where the case was initially heard, ruled that the petitioner lacked jurisdiction because he was neither a member of the PDP nor a candidate in the party’s primaries, despite the fact that he had successfully demonstrated that the party had not complied with the relevant provisions of the Act in the conduct of its primaries.
Dissatisfied, Comrade Idoko appealed the decision and was again found guilty and sentenced to pay N37 million in general damages to the respondents.
Now that the lawsuit has reached the highest court, Idoko claims that Messrs. Babasoro are deliberately delaying the case.
“My Lord, I seek your intervention to save me considering the fine of 37 million Naira imposed on me by the Court of Appeal,” he prayed, “considering the ruling of the Federal High Court that the PDP Enugu State truly violated the Electoral Act as a result of their failure to Submit their Party Register within the lawfully specified time frame of 30 days to their Party Primary Elections.”
The petitioner, who said he had written three previous reminders to the Supreme Court, complained to the CJN in a letter seen by our correspondent that the DCR2 Litigation and other Court staff have “served as clogs in the wheel of the progress of my matter which occasioned a great injustice to me.”
He claimed that he had followed all the Supreme Court’s rules to the letter, therefore he was confused as to why the court’s administrators had declined to schedule a hearing on his case, which involved a controversy around an upcoming election.
In part, the letter read, “My Lord, I seek your intervention to save me considering the fine of 37 million Naira imposed on me by the Court of Appeal, even after they agreed with the ruling of the Federal High Court that the PDP Enugu State truly violated the Electoral Act by failing to Submit their Party Register within the lawfully specified time frame of 30 days to their Party Primary Elections.”
Comrade Idoko wrote to the Speaker of the House of Representatives to complain that he had not heard back from the Supreme Court despite sending two reminder letters on July 25 and August 3, 2023. His initial letter had been dated June 5.
The following is a partial excerpt from the petition presented in plenary by Hon. Chidi Mark Obetta, who represents the Nsukka/Igbo Eze South Federal Constituency:
Justice postponed is justice denied, Mr. Speaker. The Supreme Court’s DCR2 Litigation (Mr. YUSUF ABUBAKAR BABASORO Esq) and other Court employees have been a constant source of frustration for me, and I have voiced my frustration with them on multiple occasions.
I have followed every rule in the Supreme Court’s Rules of Procedure to the letter, and my case has never been scheduled for a hearing.
Dear Mr. Speaker, On August 1, 2023, I wrote to the CJN’s office after being told by DCR2 Litigation that the two letters (dated June 20 and July 5) minuted to his office were lost and that I would have to wait indefinitely for their recovery.
“Hon. Speaker Sir, assuming without conceding that those two letters were truly missing from his desk, what then happened to the final letter dated 1st August 2023, which was received in DCR2’s office on 4th of August, 2023, and which he has also continued to ignore acting on, contrary to My Lord’s instructions. That letter has been sitting on his desk for well over two months now.
To have to suffer because the Court officials did not do their legal jobs would be a miscarriage of justice in my eyes as a Nigerian. It goes without saying that a litigant shouldn’t have to pay for their lawyer’s mistakes, and the same goes for the judges and clerks who work on the case.
Dear Mr. Speaker, If you can help me out, I would greatly appreciate it. The Court of Appeal upheld the Federal High Court’s verdict and imposed a punishment of 37 million Naira on me. By failing to submit their Party Register within the legally required 30 days before their Party Primary Elections, the PDP in Enugu State broke the Electoral Act.
For the sake of enhancing Nigerian law, I was dissatisfied with the outcomes in both the Federal High Court and the Appeal Court, therefore I urged that Nigeria’s highest court have the ultimate say.