Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday affirmed the elections of former Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah; Senator Andy Ubah and others on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party into the national and state assemblies of Anambra State in the last year’s general elections.
Justice Adeniyi Ademola held that the list of candidates, containing the names Oduah, Ubah and others submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission by the National Working Committee of the PDP was the authentic list of candidates of the party in the state.
Justice Ademola made this declaration in his judgment on a suit filed by a former senator representing Anambra Central in the National Assembly, Annie Okonkwo; Chukwunedum Chris Ubah and 42 others.
The plaintiffs were aggrieved aspirants named as candidates in the list submitted to INEC by the Ejike Oguebego-led Anambra State Executive Committee of the PDP ahead of the March 28, and April 11, 2015 general elections.
The plaintiffs had in their suit filed on February 27, 2015, among others, challenged the decision of INEC to substitute their names earlier published on the commission’s website with those contained in the list submitted to it by the party’s NWC.
They urged the court to void INEC’s decision to replace their names with those of Oduah, Ubah and others on the grounds that the substitution was not backed by any court order.
They anchored their prayers on provisions of sections 85 and 86 as well as sections 87 (1),(2), (3), (4), (7) and (9) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).
But Justice Ademola resolved the four issues he identified for determination against the plaintiffs. The judge held that the publication of names on the website of INEC had no legal consequences.
“Publication of names by INEC has no legal consequences. A candidate must establish his candidacy by showing his nomination papers,” the judge said.
He added that the state executive organ of a party lacked the power to submit names of candidates to INEC.
Justice Ademola therefore voided the primary conducted by the Oguebego-led state executive committee, describing it as illegal.
The judge said, “The executive of a party or any organ of the party at the state level lacks the power to sponsor candidates. It is only the primary conducted by the national officers or their delegates that can validly conduct primary to produce its candidates.
“The 1st to 44 plaintiffs were not the true candidates of the 17th defendant (PDP), but products of illegally contrived primary by the Anambra PDP, which is a complete illegality.”
Justice Ademola, who referred to the January 29, 2016 judgment and February 24, 2016 ruling of the Supreme Court with respect to the crisis in the Anambra PDP, held that the apex court’s judgment and ruling was against the plaintiffs.
The judge, who also referred to an earlier judgment by the late Justice Evoh Chukwu (also of the Federal High Court, Abuja but now late), said the judgment only upheld the legitimacy of the Ejike Oguebego-led state executive of the PDP in Anambra.
Justice Ademola held that the fact that Justice Chukwu’s judgment upheld the legitimacy of Oguebego-state EXCO of the PDP in Anambra State did not confer on it the power to nominate candidates for the party.
He said political parties, being national organisations, the power to nominate or select candidates for a party resided with its National Working Committee, not the state executive committee.
The judge dismissed the suit, but made no order as to cost.