Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
The suit seeking to sack all candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Abia State in the 2023 election, was Friday, dismissed by the Federal High Court sitting in Umuahia.
Some PDP members and delegates, Mr Ndudi Nwagbara, Egege Ikedichi, Ochulo Ulonam Juniour, Onyedikachi Abaribe, and three others, had approached the court on August 4, seeking to nullify the three-man delegate ad hoc congress of the PDP in the state.
The plaintiffs alleged that the purported congresses were never held, claiming that the names of delegates used for the party’s primary elections were fabricated.
They sued the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC; the PDP; and the party’s National Chairman, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, as the first, second and third defendants respectively.
The plaintiffs, among other prayers, sought “A declaration that the purported PDP Ward three (3) Ad hoc Delegate Congresses allegedly conducted in Abia State on Friday the 6th day of May 2022 is unauthorized, incompetent, unlawful, illegal, null, void, of no effect whatsoever and that no valid or competent Ward ad hoc Delegates were elected thereat.”
They also sought “A declaration that as a consequence of not having held valid, lawful or competent Ward three (3) Ad hoc Delegates Congresses in any of the 184 Wards of Abia State, no competent, lawful or valid Primary elections have been held by the 2nd Defendant, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in Abia
State for the purpose of electing its candidates for the public offices of Abia State House of Assembly, Abia State Governor, House of Representatives and Senate representing Abia State at the National Assembly.”
Other prayers of the plaintiffs include:” An order voiding, nullifying, and setting aside the incompetent, invalid and unlawful PDP Ward three (3) Ad hoc Delegate Congresses allegedly conducted in Abia State on Friday the 6th day of May 2022.
“An order setting aside nullifying and voiding the primary elections of the 2nd Defendant, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) held for the public offices of Abia State House of Assembly, Abia State Governor, House of Representatives and Senate representing Abia State at the National Assembly held without conduct of valid and competent PDP Ward three (3) Ad hoc Delegate
Delivering judgment on the matter, presiding Judge, Justice Evelyn Anyadike, held that the conduct of party delegate congress was entirely an internal affairs of a political party and not justiceable in law.
The court held that “no law gives delegates right of action” in court to challenge the conduct of delegate congress.
According to Justice Anyadike, the suit can only be justiceable in the court if it were brought by an aspirant who participated in a primary election.
The court subsequently, dismissed the suit after resolving it in favour of the defendants, declaring that the plaintiffs lacked locus to sue.
Later in an interview, Counsel to the plaintiffs, Nnamdi Ahaiwe, said his clients would decide on the next line of action after a careful study of the judgment.
“You know that judgment is how the court interprets a case brought before it. We will go back and read the judgment, and after that, we will take a decision.
“The law has made provisions for other levels of adjudication because it knows that a court can be wrong. So, parties have the right to go to higher courts.”
Speaking also in an interview, one of the members of the defendants’ legal team, Professor A.B.C Agbazuere, hailed the judgment, describing it as “copiously current and accurate.”
“It was currently and accurately decided. The court saw that it was an internal affairs of the party and should not be brought to the court. The plaintiffs were lucky the court did not award damages against them.”
The immediate-past Chief of Staff to the Governor who is the PDP candidate for Isiala Ngwa North and Isiala Ngwa South federal constituency expressed delight that the plot to sack all PDP candidates for the 2023 elections in Abia did not succeed.
“They were working to remove all of us through the court like what happened in Rivers State. They came wrongly and we thank God they failed. People sponsoring them will know that we will also win them in the field.”