A Federal High Court sitting in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State has nullified the June 4th and 5th Primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that produced Senator Obinna Ogba as its governorship candidate.
The court upheld the primary of 28th and 29th May 2022
Justice Fatun Riman in a ruling upheld the primary of 28th and 29th May 2022 that produced Chief Chukwuma Odii as its governorship candidate for the party.
The Court also restrained the party from refusing to receive and transmit the name of Mr Ifeanyi Ọdịi, who won the cancelled governorship primaries, to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the candidate of the party for Ebonyi 2023 governorship election.
The PDP National Working Committee(NWC) cancelled the primaries held on the 28th and 29th of May for not following the directives of the party and the committee that presided over it does not form a quorum to hold the primaries.
While the May primary was conducted by the Silas Ọnụ led faction of the party, the rescheduled primary was conducted by the Tochukwu Okorie faction.
Senator Obinna Ọgba won the rescheduled election which the court declared null, void, and illegal.
The party had been enmeshed in a leadership tussle since the State Executive election last year which Mr Tochukwu Okorie was declared the winner.
Mr Silas Ọnụ, who lost to Okorie challenged the outcome in court and in April the Federal High Court in Abuja sacked Okorie and ordered that Ọnụ be sworn in.
But Tochukwu appealed the ruling in court and the appellate court ordered that the status quo existing before the High Court ruling be maintained effectively ousting Mr Onu.
But Mr Ọnụ continued to lay claim to the chairmanship and even went ahead to conduct the primaries of May 28th and 29th week.
The national Leadership midway into the governorship primary election on 29th May announced the cancellation of the primary elections for the state.
But the primaries went ahead and Mr Ifeanyi Ọdịi emerged the winner even though most of the aspirants boycotted or withdrew from the said election.
The party later fixed another primary for the 4th and 5th of June 2023 in which fresh candidates emerged including Senator Obinna Ọgba who emerged winner of the rescheduled governorship election.
Mr Ọdịị however boycotted the said rescheduled election.
But Mr Odii approached the court seeking a declaration that the cancellation or purported cancellation of the Governorship primary election held in Ebonyi State on 29/05/2022 is unlawful, whimsical, capricious, null, void and of no effect in any manner whatsoever for offending the provisions of the electoral law.
Mr Odii through his Lawyer, Mudi Erhenede also sought a declaration that the National Chairman and the National Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party cannot upturn the valid decisions of the National Working Committee and the National Executive Committee without holding valid and subsequent meetings of the said organs of the party for that purpose.
Other reliefs sought by Mr Ọdịi include “A declaration that the National Working Committee and the National Executive Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party could not have held and did not hold any meeting of the said organs of the party while it was engrossed in the conduct of its special National Convention for purposes electing its Presidential Candidate from 28/05/2022 and 29/05/2022 for the 2023 elections.
“A declaration that the Peoples Democratic Party cannot lawfully cancel, upturn, annual etc the outcome of its Governorship primaries held on 29/05/2022 in Ebonyi State in the manner contained in its purported press release of 29/05/2022 for offending the provisions of the said extant laws referred to above.
“A declaration that the Independent National Electoral Commission cannot blindly comply with the cancellation or purported cancellation of the Governorship primary election of the Peoples Democratic Party held on 29/05/2022 In Ebonyi State for offending the provisions of the said extant laws referred to above.
“An order of perpetual injunction restraining The 1st Defendant or itself, its agents, organs, servants, workmen, privies etc from purporting to cancel, cancelling or otherwise tampering with or upturning the outcome of the Governorship Primary election held in Ebonyi State on 29/05/2022.
“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 1st Defendant for itself, agents, organs, servants, workmen etc from refusing to receive or transmit the name of the Plaintiff/Applicant to the 2 Defendant NEC) as its (Governorship candidate for Ebony State.
“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 1st Defendant for itself, its agents, organs, servants, workmen, privies etc from rescheduling or fixing any other date for its Governorship primary election in Ebonyi State other than that scheduled and already held by it in Ebonyi State on 29/05/2022.
“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 2nd Defendant for itself, its agents, servants, workmen, privies etc from monitoring any other governorship primary election of the Peoples Democratic Party in Ebonyi State after that of 29/05/2022”.
In his ruling, Justice Riman agreed with the plaintiff and grabbed all the reliefs sought.
The judge noted that the rescheduled primaries were held in flagrant disregard to the party’s guidelines and constitution.
He also averred that the rescheduled primary election flouted the Electoral Law as amended as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) did not monitor the said election.