After the Court of Appeal in Abuja on September 30 ordered the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to refund the money paid by an aspirant for the purchase of Expression of Interest Form for the 2015 Anambra Central Senatorial District election, analysts are of the view that it should be part of the law in Nigeria.
Chukwunweike Maduekwe, Esq. who bought the form in consideration of a primary election, went to court against the PDP, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Senator Uche Ekwunife, contending that no primary was held as promised before he made the purchase.
A three-member panel of justices led by Justice Abubakar Datti Yahaya, on Thursday, ordered the PDP to deposit the sum of N4.5 million for the Expression of Interest and Nomination Form to a designated bank account.
The appellate court dismissed the PDP application brought by their counsel, Otokpa Ochayi Otakpa Esq, seeking leave to appeal the earlier order of a high court for the refund on the grounds that the party failed to disclose facts for the delay to file the appeal since 2017.
“The application lacks merit and is hereby dismissed,” the jurist said.
Maduekwe had contended that the outright failure, neglect and non-compliance of the PDP with mandatory statutory provisions, including its own Electoral Guidelines 2014, the party is under a contractual obligation to refund all the monies collected from him and other aspirants in Anambra State in ostensible consideration for conducting party primary election from the selection/election of the party candidate for Anambra State.
Counsel to the aspirant, Patrick Ikwueto (SAN) had pleaded with the court to order the deposit of the funds to an account to avoid delay tactics.
Thus, the court dismissed an appeal by PDP counsel, Otokpa Ochayi Otokpa Esq, who sought leave of the court to appeal the earlier order of a high court for the refund, arguing that the party had some crisis after the 2015 general elections.
Reacting to the development, the executive director of the Centre for Social Justice (SCJ), Eze Onyekpere Esq., said the minimum any such political party who sold forms and failed to conduct primary should do is to return the money because it means “obtaining money by false pretence.”
Also reacting, Nnamdi Ahaiwe, Esq. said it is not strange that the Court of Appeal made such an order because it is within the rights of such aspirants to demand and retrieve their monies if the primaries which they paid for did not hold.
“It is just that many politicians in that election are looking after their future interests, even though they contest elections but the party did not hold, the party would always tell them, ‘don’t worry, later we will give you appointment of something’. So, because of that they wouldn’t want to drag the party to court,” he said.
“It’s like any other transaction; if you ask somebody to sell you a ticket for a concert and the concert doesn’t hold, of course, the person is supposed to refund your money.
“It is just that politicians have different considerations. They look at it that once you take a party to court, your own has finished. So, any court would grant it normally and in any case, it is a very good precedent that someone has been able to do it,” Ahaiwe said.
Also reacting, Hameed Ajibola Jimoh, Esq., said where a political party has sold multiple forms to candidates but fails to hold the primary, the funds ought to be refunded.
Even examination when it does not hold is refundable, even hajj deposit is refunded. That is equity, otherwise it may lead to people being taken advantage of and all sorts of schemes asking people to subscribe, he also said.