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Edo 2024: What Justice Ekwo Did Not Say On Thursday, By Jane Uyi Orobosa

Code of Conduct Tribunal Chair's Futile War Against Justice Ekwo - Swift  Reporters

THURSDAY, July 4, 2024 witnessed an unprecedented distortion, misrepresentation and misinformation of what was the judgement delivered by Justice Iyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, in respect of the forthcoming governorship election in Edo State.

Contrary to what became the ‘Breaking News’, neither the primary election of February 22, 2024 by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) nor the winner of the exercise, Dr Asue Ighodalo, as the flag bearer of the party was invalidated, annulled or disqualified.

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The appalling and inexcusable ‘Breaking News’ was that the PDP primary of February 22 had been invalidated and Ighodalo disqualified from the race. The face behind the malicious untruth, a so-called ‘learned friend’, with a mischievous smirk in front of klieg lights, who orchestrated the propaganda, told the world that “by implication that means that PDP has no candidate for the coming election.” Fake news. A lie from the pit of hell !

And journalists, ever in a hurry to be ‘the first to break the news,’ ran with such untrue earth-shaking news. Bad news they say, is good news and most sought after in journalism. With technology and the power of the internet, the whole media space in Nigeria and beyond was soon awash with the double lies. Justice Iyang Ekwo, never at any time pronounced the PDP primary nullified or Ighodalo disqualified. And you wonder at the capacity of the human mind to construct and propagate mischief solely for the sake of it.

Expectedly, the lie and propaganda, swallowed hook, line and sinker by some otherwise considered credible news outlets, both print and electronic, social media and online, in no time elicited a frenzy of pyrrhic festival of celebration in the camps of disgruntled PDP members and opposition parties across the state. Are you asking why the spontaneous celebration? Ighodalo is their major headache. His popularity had grown beyond what the opposition and disgruntled elements could fathom. His acceptance had grown beyond description. Notwithstanding the enormity of the campaign of calumny, propaganda, lies and deliberate character assassination against him, he continues to maintain a good and comfortable lead ahead of the crowd. He is considered by all as the most competent, a man with the right capacity, the connection and the compassion to do the job. Not some half-baked bread who can’t differentiate between a zoo and a museum. And this is to their eternal chagrin.

Now, what did Justice Iyang Ekwo really say? According to the Certified True Copy (CTC) of the ruling by Hon. Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Abuja Federal High Court in Suit No FHC/ABJ/CS/165/2024, revealed that the Hon. Judge gave an order for the inclusion of 378 delegates as part of the 3 Ad-Hoc Ward Delegates to participate in the February 22 Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) primary election.

But the Judge, significantly, made no pronouncement on the validity or otherwise of the candidature of Dr. Asue Ighodalo and his running mate, Osarodion Ogie Esq as against media reports which misled the public on the validity of the primary election.

The CTC document, therefore, has put to rest the confusion that had emanated from the judgment delivered by Hon. Justice Inyang Ekwo, clearing all misinterpretations and doubts about the ruling.

In his ruling as seen from the CTC document, the judge declared that “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.”

 

According to him, “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 22nd of February, 2024 or any other date.”

He continued: “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.”

The Judge added: “An Order of Mandatory Injunction is hereby made restraining the 1st, 2nd and 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.”

 

Essentially, the judgment confers no advantage on the plaintiffs, neither does it harm the defendants. This clarification has become necessary so as to disabuse the mind of the gullible who may continue to believe the lies and propaganda of the opposition. And most importantly, the media houses which had run with the untruth, to be honourable enough to redirect the story of what Justice Iyang Ekwo said in his court.

It is criminal to imbue a judgment with meaning that are inferred or adduced other than the expressly stated pronouncements of the presiding judge.

In light of the deliberate attempts to continue to distort the facts and mislead the public, it is imperative to further stress what Justice Iyang Ekwo did not say. And that is: Dr. Asue Ighodalo’s candidacy for the upcoming Edo 2024 gubernatorial election was annulled, invalidated or tampered with in any way whatsoever. Put differently, efforts by detractors to misrepresent the recent court judgment as a nullification of Ighodalo’s candidacy is a blatant lie. There is no threat to Dr. Ighodalo’s standing as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) flag bearer in the September 21 governorship election in Edo State. Those who wanted to smuggle their incompetent and generally clueless candidate into Osadebey Avenue through the back door and so went dancing and jubilating, did that prematurely and the truth now tastes bitter in their mouth and annoying to their heart.

· Orobosa writes from Benin City

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