By Amb. Tony Okonigene

To get a proper understanding of the choice before the PDP NWC in respect of the crisis bedeviling the Edo State PDP following the pronouncement by the Court of Appeal on Monday 25th July 2022, it is important to review the judgement of the Federal High Court Abuja that was appealed against.

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On the 25th of May 2022, the Federal High Court in Abuja in a declaratory judgement, ordered INEC, The PDP National Chairman, National Secretary, National Organizing Secretary and The PDP not to recognize any other delegate for the purpose of the PDP primaries and special national convention other than the ones that emerged from the congresses monitored by INEC as specified in the Electoral Act. The plaintiffs were the Legacy PDP delegates from the 192 wards. It is worthy of note here that the delegates from the governor’s faction were not parties to the suit neither did they apply to be joined as defendants.

Not satisfied, the the defendants ( excluding INEC) appealed the judgement.

Meanwhile, the National Chairman in disobedience to the court judgement, attempted to use the National Delegates that emerged from the illegal congresses conducted by the governor’s faction for the special national convention to elect the party’s presidential candidate. INEC made it clear that if the National Delegates produced by delegates of the Legacy PDP were not used, the exercise would be a nullity and INEC would not monitor the convention as it will never disobey a valid court judgement. The PDP was forced to use the delegates of the Legacy PDP in the convention to avoid calamity.

The Legacy candidates approached the Federal High Court with INEC as the sole defendant. The Federal High Court ordered INEC not to recognize any other candidate order than the candidates of the Legacy PDP.

Still wanting to impress his pay masters, the national chairman attempted to offload the candidates of the governor’s faction into INEC’S portal. The names were rejected. The commission wrote to the party informing the chairman of the court’s order and why it can only accept the candidates from the Legacy group. Again Ayu’s heart was hardened.

The Legacy candidates again approached the court to enforce the order of the court. INEC showed the court the letter it wrote to the PDP requesting for the particulars of the candidates of the Legacy PDP. The court threatened to wield the big stick.

In response to the letter from INEC, the PDP in a letter dated 30th June 2022 signed by the Acting National Chairman and National Secretary, sent the particulars of the Legacy PDP to INEC for publication.

The Court of Appeal has pronounced that the issue of delegates of a party is purely a domestic affair hence the court has no jurisdiction. It made no order to INEC nor to the PDP.

As things stand now, the Legacy PDP delegates will have to approach the Supreme Court to save the PDP. A political party cannot have valid candidates if it does not have valid delegates. The delegates from the governor’s faction are not parties to the suit. There is no way that the Supreme Court will recognize them.

The Electoral Act empowers INEC to monitor parties congresses and primaries and to refuse the name of any candidate that did not emerge in accordance with the provisions of the Electoral Act. INEC has already exercised this power in Akwa Ibom , Yobe, Eboyin, Imo and Benue States. In exercise of this power, INEC has said it will not accept the candidates of the governor’s faction as they did not emerge from the delegates recognized and monitored by INEC. Only a definite order of the court will change this.

If Ayu insists on having a hardened heart, INEC will not accept the candidates of the governor’s faction and the PDP in Edo State will end up with no candidates. The only way to compel Ayu to act rightly is a definite order from the Supreme Court.
Once the Supreme Court lays the delegates issues to rest, the other cases will become mere academic exercises.

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