September 30, (THEWILL) – Barely one week after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) published the names of candidates who emerged from the Dan Orbih-led Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) factional primary in Edo state, the Supreme Court on Friday, declared the list illegal.
The PDP faction, led by the National Vice Chairman South-South, Chief Dan Orbih, had in an appeal marked SC/CV/979/2022, asked the Apex Court to invalidate the primary election conducted by Gov. Godwin Obaseki’s led faction of the party.
Delivering ruling on the appeal on Friday, the Apex Court in a unanimous judgement read by Justice Emmanuel Agim, dismissed the appeal on the want of merit.
The court held that the issue of leadership by political parties is an internal affair and as such, the courts have no jurisdiction.
Justice Agim urged political parties to always adhere strictly to their guidelines, rules and regulations in order to promote genuine democracy.
The crisis over control of the Edo state PDP raged between Governor Obaseki and Dan Orbih.
The governor, formerly of the All Progressives Congress (APC), defected to PDP in 2020, where he contested for the last governorship election.
THEWILL recalls that on Wednesday, a Federal High Court sitting in Benin City, ordered INEC, to recognise and publish the names of candidates produced by the Obaseki-led faction of the Edo PDP as standard-bearers of the party in the forthcoming 2023 elections.
In that judgement delivered by Justice S. Shuaibu, the court granted all the reliefs sought by the plaintiffs.
The plaintiffs include the party’s candidate for Edo South Senatorial District, Matthew Iduoriyekemwen; Sunny Aguebor for Oredo Federal Constituency, and the flag bearer for Akoko Edo Federal Constituency, Kabiru Adjoto, among others.
Among the reliefs sought by the plaintiffs were an order of court, mandating the fourth defendant, INEC, to publish the names of the plaintiffs as the validly elected candidates of the Edo PDP for the 2023 general elections.
The judge noted that based on past decisions by the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal, the state chapter of a political party was not empowered by law to conduct party primaries and that only the National Working Committee, NWC, of a political party has the power to conduct party primaries.
According to him, “there is nothing before the court to show that the primaries in which the 4th to 39th defendants participated was conducted by the National Working Committee of the PDP. Rather, their primaries were conducted by the Edo State chapter of the PDP.
“In my view, the power of INEC under Section 84 of the Electoral Act is limited to monitoring of party primary elections and does not extend to preparing or declaring the results of that election. This remains the law.
“In the light of the foregoing, INEC cannot rely on results prepared by the first defendant, Edo PDP.”