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Certified True Copy Reveals Edo PDP Primary Election Was Not Invalidated By Court

THE Certified True Copy (CTC) of the Judgement of Justice Inyang Ekwo of Federal High Court in Abuja, has revealed that the primary election that produced Asue Ighodalo as candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was not invalidated by the court.

Besides, the judgement did not make any pronouncement on the validity or otherwise of the candidature of Ighodalo and his running mate, Osarodion Ogie.

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Owing to the development, some residents of Ighodalo’s Ewohimi community in Esan South East Local Government Area of Edo State have vowed to deliver block votes for their son in the September 21governorship poll.

However, the Edo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Friday, expressed confidence in its chances of winning the 2024 governorship election in the State, attributing it to the seeming disarray among the ranks of the ruling PDP.

Speaking to newsmen at the State House, Abuja, on Friday, leader of the APC in Edo State, Senator Adams Oshiomhole, and the Minister of Niger Delta Development, Abubakar Momoh, cited various reasons why the election in the State was up for their party to grab.

The CTC document put to rest the confusion that had emanated from the judgement; clearing all misinterpretations of the ruling.

Delivering judgement in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/165/2024, justice Ekwo who faulted the exclusion of the plaintiffs and 378 other delegates in the February 22 primary election for the selection of the PDP’s candidate in the forthcoming governorship election in Edo State, only ordered their inclusion in the poll.

Three aggrieved ad-hoc delegates, kelvin Mohammed, Gabriel Okoduwa and Ederaho Osagie had sued the PDP on behalf of themselves and 378 other delegates over their exclusion in the February 22 primary election that produced Ighodalo as flag bearer of the PDP in the forthcoming election in Edo State.

Besides the PDP other respondents included the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), PDP’s National Secretary and the Vice Chairman, South south.

They had asked the court to determine amongst others whether their exclusion from the said primary was not in breach of the party’s Constitution.

Besides, they had urged the court to order the PDP to allow their participation in the poll if the questions raised for determination were in their favour.

Delivering judgement in the suit on Thursday, the court observed that the primary failed to comply with Sections 82 of the Electoral Act, 2022; the guidelines for the conduct of the poll and Article 50(3) of the party’s constitution.

Citing judicial authorities, Justice Ekwo said “it is mandatory for a political party such as the 2nd defendant (PDP) to comply with its constitution.”

While stressing that parties are bound by the Constitution of Nigeria, the Electoral Act and their own constitution and guidelines, Ekwo held that where they act contrary to the provisions of the law and the guidelines which they have enacted for themselves, such actions will be declared invalid.

Delivering the judgment, Justice Ekwo answered the number four question posed by the plaintiffs in affirmative.

“Consequently, I find that the case of the plaintiffs succeeds on the merit upon preponderance of evidence as required by law.

“Before I answer the questions formulated by the Plaintiffs, there is need to say that question 1 did not adduce evidence on it.

“I answer the other questions as follows:

“Question 2 in the affirmative; question 3 in the negative, and question 4 in the affirmative.

“I enter judgement on the terms as follows:

“A declaration is hereby made that by virtue of the provisions of Article 50 (3) of the Constitution of the 2nd defendant (as amended in 2017), the plaintiffs together with the other lawfully elected delegates, whose names and election results appear on Exhibits BID 8A to 8L herein, are the lawfully elected Ward Congress Delegates in their respective wards and by virtue of which the defendants cannot exclude them from participating as 3 Ad-Hoc Ward Delegates at the governorship primary election of Edo State slated for the 22 of February, 2024 or any other date.

“An order is hereby made directing the defendants who are bound by the provisions of Section 82 of the Electoral Act, 2022 and Article 50 (3) of the 2nd defendant’s constitution (as amended in 2017) to abide by the outcome of the 3 Ad-Hoc Delegates Ward Congress of February 4, 2024, at which the plaintiffs and the other 378 delegates, whose names and election results appear on Exhibits BID 8A to 8L were elected and to allow the plaintiffs and the 375 other lawfully elected delegates participate in the primary election of February 22, 2024.

“An order of Mandatory Injunction is hereby made restraining the 1st, 2nd, 3rd defendants from unlawfully excluding the plaintiffs and the other lawfully elected delegates whose names and election results appear on Exhibits BID 8A to 8L herein, from participating as 3 Ad-Hoc Ward Delegates in the governorship election primaries of the 2nd defendant slated for the 22nd of February, 2024 or any other date.

“This is the order of this court,” the judge said.

Meanwhile, speaking to newsmen at Abuja, Oshiomhole, who was the first to speak, said the party was at the Villa to see President Bola Tinubu with the candidate of the APC and his running mate, Hon Dennis Idahosa, to give an update of the party’s campaign activities.

He denied insinuations that the crisis that emanated from the invalidation of the PDP governorship primary was orchestrated by the APC, pointing out that it was an internal crisis of the ruling party, which had nothing to do with the APC.

Reacting to allegations the PDP primary election crisis was orchestrated by the APC, Oshiomhole said “I think you should dismiss that because this is PDP versus PDP and you know that by the law, another party cannot go into intra-party conflicts in court. So if it is convenient for them to explain that you can dismiss it without asking me.

“The fact that there had been division in Edo before their primaries and after their primaries is an open secret, and the issues in dispute are also very open. The PDP legacy group complained that the man they gave their master bedroom has completely chased them out of the building and now they’re under the rain and as we speak they are still trying to settle.

“Those who couldn’t find accommodation, we picked them one by one and don’t forget that those in that Osadebe Avenue were my own creation in the sense that I supported Obaseki to become governor and so I have people who still have affection for me.

“Edo people won’t forget in the hurry what I did when I was governor and those of them who didn’t quite readily appreciate now compared the past with the present. So if they have disputes or disagreement which they couldn’t settle and they choose to settle it in the court and the court nullify the process…

“I mean you read the judgment so is not me. How can anybody say… if you know Dan Orbih, the leader of Legacy Group, he was my fierce critic, when I was in government, so what power do I have? How can we, non-state group, have power to influence a seasoned politician to move against themselves?

“So this is purely PDP intra-party, and I think the lesson is very clear, namely that parties must be encouraged to obey the laws that regulate the conduct of primaries, and that rules are meant to be obeyed if you formulate your constitution.

“It is the base of the contract between party members. Now, the Electoral Act is meant to ensure that everybody played the game within the you know, within the rules, so we have nothing to do it”, he said.

On why the visit and how the parties stand for the upcoming election,  Oshiomhole said “we went with the candidate and the running mate to give the President… he is the leader of the party to give him an update on the campaigns going on what we are doing and the fact that we are harvesting more are more people every day decamping.”

On his part, Momoh, also spoke of the advantage of the APC over the PDP and Labour Party’s candidate, Olumide Akpata, saying his party’s candidate already had Edo North and Central Senatorial Districts locked down, adding that the South Senatorial District would be the only battle ground where the three parties will share votes.

According to him: “Well, that’s not correct. The reason being that we have been in the politics of the state long before now. First, let nobody make mistake by using the election of 2024 to judge what is going to happen as far as the votes of Oreedo and other local government in Benin City will be. First to answer your question.

“Yes, Edo north is a no go area because my leader, myself and a host of others including Dan Orbih today who’s coming from the legacy group, we are from Edo north, anytime any day maximally we can deliver Edo North. Edo Central there is no doubt that our candidates Senator Monday Okpebholo, will sweep Edo Central because he’s a homeboy.”

In the meantime, some residence of Ighodalo’s Ewohimi community in Esan South East Local Government Area of Edo State have vowed to deliver block votes for their son in the September 21governorship poll.

They said the PDP candidate over the years has continued to identify with the plights of the down trodden in his community with the provision of basic amenities without making noise about it, noting that they are excited that he is gunning for the office of the governor and are ready to reciprocate his kind gesture by voting for him and his deputy.

An indigene of Ewohimi, Mr Odion Samson, who yesterday, in Benin-City, said the people were proud of Ighodalo’s track record of achievements in private sector and in governance which stand him tall above any other candidates and expressed confidence in his ability to steer the ship of the state to prosperity and development.

Deji Elumoye, Alex Enumah and Adibe Emenyonu

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