April 17, 2024

Edo PDP Holds ‘Solo’ Primary Today Amidst Litigations, Boycott by Some Aspirants

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By Reporter

The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP will be holding its primary to pick the party’s candidate for the September 21, 2024 governorship election today amidst a decision by some aspirants to distance themselves from the exercise.

Their decision according to one of the aspirants who was appointed to speak with Midwest Herald, is based on the legal challenges confronting the processes leading to today’s exercise.

Presently, two court cases are pending in the Federal High Court, challenging the conduct of the party’s congresses and the letter written to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC by one acting National Secretary.

The first case was instituted by Alhaja Adizetu Umoru and came up for hearing yesterday, February 21, 2024, in a Federal High Court in Abuja. Umoru has approached the High Court to set aside the ongoing process to choose a governorship candidate for the party.

In her application to the court affirmed that the process was inherently defective in the face of the fact that the notice for the Edo gubernatorial primary was issued by Hon (Arc) Setonji Koshoedo who she claimed was removed by a court as acting National Secretary of the PDP in January 2024.

She contended that Koshoedo had on February 1, 2024 issued the “Notice of Gubernatorial Primary Elections in Edo State” despite the fact that a Federal High Court presided over by Honourable Justice I.E. Ekwo had removed him as acting National Secretary and confirmed Senator Samuel Anyanwu as the authentic National Secretary of the PDP on January 9, 2024.

The judgment of Justice Ekwo was delivered on January 9, 2024 well before the notice by Koshoedo was made on February 1, 2024.

Alhaja Umoru in her statement of claim deposed that Koshoedo was not in a position upon the provisions of Section 82(1&5) requiring political parties to give notice to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to so communicate with the commission over issues of PDP congresses.

The INEC, the PDP, Umar Damagun (Acting national chairman of the PDP) Hon (Arc) Setonji Koshoedo, the National Working Committee of the PDP, National Executive Committee of the PDP are the 1st to 6th Defendants respectively in the suit filed before the court by her lawyer Matthew Burka (SAN).

Court bailiff pasting order on the walls of PDP national office in Abuja

In the court process, Alhaja Umoru averred that the court should among others determine

“Whether having regard to the Provisions of Section 82 (1 & 5) of the Electoral Act, 2022, Article 47(1) of the 2nd Defendant’s Constitution (as amended 2017) and the Judgment of the Federal High Court, Per, Honourable Justice I. E. Ekwo delivered on the 9th of January,2024 in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS1580/2023 between Hon. Geoffrey Ihentuge & Anor Vs. PDP & 4 Ors, the 1st Defendant can give effect or act on the letter titled “Re: Notice of Gubernatorial Primary Elections in Edo State” dated February 01, 2024 issued and/or endorsed by the 3rd and 4th Defendants and which was received by the 1st Defendant on the 2nd February, 2024

Whether having regard to the Provisions of Section 82(1 & 5) of the Electoral Act, 2022, Article 47(1) of the 2nd Defendant’s Constitution (as amended 2017), and the Judgment of the Federal High Court, Per Honourable Justice I.E. Ekwo delivered on the 9th January, 2024 in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS1580/2023 between Hon. Geoffrey Ihentuge & Anor Vs. PDP & 4 Ors, the 4th Defendant – Hon. (Arc) Setonji Koshoedo can lawfully issue and/or endorse any letter of correspondence of the 2nd Defendant as its Secretary or Acting National Secretary

Whether having regard to the Provisions of Section 82(1 & 5) of the Electoral Act, 2022, Article 47(1) of the 2nd Defendant’s Constitution (as amended 2017), and the Judgment of the Federal High Court, Per Honourable Justice I.E. Ekwo delivered on the 9th January, 2024 in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS1580/2023 between Hon. Geoffrey Ihentuge & Anor Vs. PDP & 4 Ors, the 2nd Defendant’s letter titled “Re: Notice of Gubernatorial Primary Elections in Edo State” dated February 01, 2024 issued and endorsed by the 3rd and 4th Defendants and which was received by the 1st Defendant on the 2nd of February, 2024 is not a nullity and therefore vitiates the Ward Congresses held on the 4th day of February, 2024.

Whether upon the proper construction and application of the Provisions of Section 82(1 & 5) of the Electoral Act, 2022, Article 47 (1) of the 2nd Defendant’s Constitution (as amended 2017) and the Court Orders in the Judgment of the Federal High Court of Nigeria, Per, Hon. Justice I.E. Ekwo made on the 9th January, 2024 in FHC/ABJ/CS1580/2023 between Hon. Geoffrey Ihentuge & Anor Vs. PDP & 4 Ors, the 2nd Defendant’s Ward Congresses held on the 4th February, 2024 pursuant to that notice is not a nullity and liable to be set aside.

And if the answers to all or any of the above Question is the Affirmative, then the Plaintiff seeks the following Relief:

Among the orders sought by the plaintiff are a declaration that the ward congresses conducted by the PDP are a nullity pursuant to the fact that the notice was invalidly issued.

It specifically asks for an Order setting aside and invalidating any action or steps, including the Ward Congresses conducted by the 2nd to 6th Defendants and/or the 1st Defendant pursuant to or in consequence of the letter titled “Re: Notice of Gubernatorial Primary Elections in Edo State” dated February 01, 2024 issued and/or endorsed by the 3rd and the 4th Defendants.

The other legal hurdle waiting for the PDP to outcome after today’s prinary election came from four PDP members who have approached the Federal High Court on behalf of 381 other members.

When the matter came up yesterday, the Federal High Court in Abuja issued an order directing the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to justify the exclusion of 381 delegates elected during its ward congress on Feb. 4 from participating in today’s primary.

The order was made by Justice Inyang Ekwo in response to an ex-parte motion filed by the plaintiffs’ counsel, Adaze Emwanta. The motion, filed on Feb. 8, sought two orders: firstly, for the defendants to explain why the delegates should be excluded, and secondly, for a halt on any action until the matter is resolved.

The plaintiffs, comprising three aggrieved ad-hoc delegates representing 378 others, filed the motion against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the PDP, its national secretary, and the vice chairman of the south-south region.

They argued that it is crucial for justice to prevail in granting their reliefs. Despite efforts to serve the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th defendants, only INEC was successfully served. A motion for substituted service has been filed for the remaining defendants, with no opposition noted.

The plaintiffs’ counsel proposed pasting the processes at the PDP headquarters for service, which was granted by Justice Ekwo, who ordered the service to be completed within two days.

INEC’s lawyer, Hassan Aminu, informed the court that they did not file any process in response to the order, as they had no objections. The judge set the next hearing for Feb. 28, directing the PDP, its national secretary, and the Vice Chairman (South-South) to demonstrate why the reliefs should not be granted.

These legal development underscores the tensions surrounding today’s primary in Edo State and highlights the judicial intervention sought by aggrieved parties within the PDP.

It will be recalled that, Mr. Obaseki’s faction of PDP had conducted parallel Congresses in the state to select delegates that will elect a governorship candidate in the scheduled primary slated for tomorrow.

Read Also: Edo 2024: PDP in Fresh Legal Crisis, Guber Candidate Doubtful

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