Home Politics Court nullifies Edo PDP governorship primary; party kicks

Court nullifies Edo PDP governorship primary; party kicks

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A Federal High Court in Abuja has invalidated the Edo State governorship primary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that produced Dr. Asue Ighodalo as the candidate for the 11 September election.

In the ruling on Thursday, Justice Inyang Ekwo held that the PDP primary on 22 February failed to comply with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 and the party’s constitution.

But the PDP governorship campaign organisation in the state countered that court ruling on the party’s delegate election did not invalidate the outcome of the primary election, which produce Ighodalo as candidate.

Three aggrieved ad hoc delegates had filed the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/165/2024 on behalf of the 378 other delegates.

The plaintiffs are Kelvin Mohammed, Gabriel Okoduwa and Ederaho Osagie, on behalf of the 378 others in 12 LGAs and 127 wards.

Justicd Ekwo held that, from the exhibit tendered in court, the returning officers who prepared the result sheets only sat in one place to falsify the outcome of the poll.

He said the exclusion of the 381 delegates, including the plaintiffs, was against the provisions of the law.

The judge further held that, although the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) filed a memorandum of appearance in the suit, it was unfortunate that the commission did not file any process in the case.

Rather, the electoral umpire had said they would abide by whatever the ruling of the court is, he said.

“I found that the case of the plaintiffs succeeds on merit”, the judge said.

INEC, the PDP, its National Secretary and the PDP Vice Chairman for the South-South, were joined as first to fourth defendants in the suit.

The 381 delegates are those loyal to Conrade Philip Shaibu, the impeached deputy governor of the state.

In a statement following the judgement, the state chapter of the PDP said that Ighodalo remains its governorship candidate in the state.

The party chairman in the state, Dr Tony Aziegbemi said: “The PDP is aware that certain elements who are scared of the soaring popularity of our candidate Dr.  Asue Ighodalo are going about peddling rumors that the candidature of Dr Asue Ighodalo has been nullified.

“Let it be on record that the candidature of Dr. Asue Ighodalo as the flag bearer of the party for the 2024 elections remains intact and that the judgement of the Federal High court in Abuja did not in any way affect the candidature of Dr. Asue Ighodalo

“We urge our teaming loyal supporters to remain calm and resolute as there is no cause for alarm”.

Also, the governorship campaign organisation of the party in the state said the ruling on the party’s delegate election did not invalidate the outcome of the party’s primary election which produced Ighodalo as governorship candidate.

It described the judgement as “a strange development and contrary to a long line of Appellate Courts’ decision on the subject”.

In a statement, the party’s campaign organisation said: “Today, 4 July 2024, the Federal High Court in Abuja presided over by Hon. Justice Ekwo entered a judgement in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/165 of 2024 (HON. KELVIN MOHAMMED & 2 ORS VS INEC & 3 ORS), which was filed by some disgruntled persons who claimed that they were authentic delegates wrongly excluded from participating in the choice of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) flagbearer in the forthcoming gubernatorial elections in Edo State.

“In a strange development and contrary to a long line of Appellate Courts’ decision on the subject, the Hon. Justice held that the issue of ward congresses and choice of the delegates, is a justiciable matter which the court is entitled to look into.

“It must be noted that the Edo State PDP and the specific court involved in this matter have a history on exactly this same point in which the Appellate Court had cause to set aside similar decisions of that same Court and to restate the law that ward congresses and the choice of delegates are purely internal affairs of political parties outside the jurisdiction of any court.

“We are confident that this new decision will not survive the test of appeal and all necessary steps in that regard are already being actively pursued.

“Furthermore, it must be noted that the claim in question and the judgement which arose therefrom did not in any shape or form invalidate or even challenge the outcome of the party primaries which produced the candidate of the PDP for the forthcoming elections.

“The net result therefore is that contrary to the stories making the rounds, spread by mischief makers, the PDP primaries held on 22 February 2024, were not set aside and neither was any order given affecting the outcome of same.

“Members and supporters of the PDP as well as the good people of Edo State are enjoined to remain calm and ignore the antics of mischief makers as the falsity of their assertion will be made clear in the fullness of time and upon release of the actual judgment for public”.

On 4 February, the PDP conducted a congress to select delegates who would participate in the party’s 22 February governorship primary.

Before the congress, Oyo State Governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde, who was appointed as the chairman of the election committee, rejected the offer on the ground that the list of electoral officers contained names from Delta State and those of officials of the Edo State government.

Nine of the 11 PDP governorship aspirants, including Shaibu boycotted the exercise.

The aspirants rejected the composition of the committee for the delegates’ election.

Aziegbemi asked aggrieved governorship hopefuls to approach the appeal panel.

Ighodalo, a businessman, won the governorship primary conducted on 22 February. He was the preferred candidate of the state governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki.

Shaibu has since been expelled by the chapter of the PDP.

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