New twist in Anambra PDP as factions revert to apex court
PARTIES to the Anambra Central Senatorial election have gone to Supreme Court to seek the true purport of its judgment in Oguebego & others vs. PDP & others in appeal No. SC37/2015.
Ejike Oguebego as Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Hon. Chuks Okoye are suing for themselves and on behalf of the other members of the State Executive Committee of PDP Anambra State is seeking a clarification by the Independent National Electoral Commission of the Supreme Court judgment.
On the other hand members of the National Assembly elected on the PDP, including senators Andy Uba, Stella Oduah and members of House of Representatives from the state, want the apex court to rule whether its judgment on the leadership crisis in Anambra PDP affected their seats.
While Arthur Obi Okafor (SAN) is approaching the apex court on behalf of members of the National Assembly from the state that emerged from the PDP primaries conducted by the National Executive Committee of PDP, Asiwaju Adegboyega S. Awomolo (SAN) is representing Ejike Oguebego and Chuks Okoye and other members of the State Executive Committee of the party.
It would be recalled that on January 29, 2016, the Supreme Court delivered a judgment concerning the leadership of PDP in Anambra State, which was given different interpretations by parties affected directly or indirectly by the pronouncement.
Consequently, it became necessary for a further recourse to the court to get a better handle on the issues surrounding the Supreme Court judgment, which was in respect of an appeal that arose from the judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja, presided over by the Honourable Justice E. S. Chukwu.
However, fresh evidence has emerged, indicating that, contrary to the speculations by analysts and political commentators, the Supreme Court did not contradict its earlier pronouncement on the leadership that bedeviled the Anambra chapter of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The major questions that the apex court is being revisited to clarify included whether its ruling invalidated the nomination of the members of the National Assembly by the PDP NEC and whether by upholding the Federal High Court order validating the Ejike Oguebego faction as the authentic state executive committee of the party, those who went through its primaries should supplant the current occupants of the seats at NASS.
Based on that, questions were being asked whether the blight of conflicting judgments have crept into the apex court, because under Section 287(1) of the 1999 Nigeria Constitution, as amended; all authorities and governance organs in the country, are enjoined to obey Supreme Court’s judgment.
But as was to be expected, the political crisis in the nomination of candidates in Anambra State for the 2015 elections, led to two parallel primary elections to select flag bearers of the party, for the election. One of the primaries was conducted by the embattled Anambra State Executive Committee of the party led by Ejike Oguebego; while the other one was conducted by the National Executive Committee of the PDP.
Being aware of the factionalization of the party in Anambra and given the urgency of the impending election, the PDP National Working Committee set up the machinery to select candidates for the State/National Assembly elections. It happened that the primary conducted by the said National Executive Committee of the PDP saw the emergence of Dr. Andy Uba, Stella Oduah, Obinna Chidoka and others as candidates for the election.
On the other hand, the primaries conducted by the Anambra State Executive of the party led by Ejike Oguebego produced Chris Uba, John Emeka, Annie Okonkwo, Charles Odedo and others.
However, prior to the primaries, Chief Oguebego decided to approach the Federal High Court, Abuja, presided over by Hon. Justice Chukwu. In that matter, the Federal High Court made an order restraining INEC from accepting any list of candidates emerging from primaries conducted by the Caretaker Committee set up by the PDP in Anambra State except the list emanating from the primaries conducted by the Oguebego-led State Executive of the party.
Dissatisfied by the court verdict, Oguebego filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal, Abuja, in respect of the matter, which must be noted, originated from the Federal High Court.
It was while the matter was at the Court of Appeal, that Hon. Charles Odedo, one of those that emerged from the primaries conducted by Ejike Oguebego, applied to be joined. Odedo’s application was rejected and thrown out. But he decided to test the law further at the Supreme Court, praying the Court to join him as a party to the suit.
Based on the specific application by Odedo, the Supreme Court came up with what is considered a definitive pronouncement on the status of the primaries conducted by the Oguebego-led Anambra State Executive Committee of the PDP as opposed to the one conducted by the National Executive Committee of the party.
“This court had on an occasion to consider the propriety of the Anambra State Executive Committee of PDP conducting a primary election for the nomination of the National Assembly candidates to fly the flag of the Peoples Democratic Party in an election. This was in the case of Emeka v. Okadigbo (2012) 18 NWLR (pt. 1331) 55 or (2012) LPELR 9338 (SC) page 36.
“In that case, it was held that the Anambra State Executive Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party has no right whatsoever to conduct National Assembly primaries…. Suffice it to say that it is the National Executive Committee of the PDP that is imbued with the responsibility for the conduct of the Party’s National Assembly Primaries.
“Any purported attempt to conduct such primary by the State Chapter of the PDP cannot be validly characterized as competent. The act is totally illegal and will confer no right as it is a nullity and also constituting an abuse of court process.”
Based on the above clarifications by the same Supreme Court, it becomes obvious that either some charlatans want to misinterpret the apex court position on the fractious Anambra PDP leaders or some political jobbers are out to cause needless mischief.
It is however expected that INEC, as a responsible and law-abiding organ of the nation should bend its will to the rule of law and position of the highest court of the land. The situation became clearer when it was discovered that INEC itself was a party to cases in point.
It would amount to a miscarriage of justice if the apex court spoke from two sides of its mouth. Furthermore, it would be totally illegal and preposterous for INEC, which is a creation of the law, notwithstanding the ruling of Justice Chukwu; to accept a list of National Assembly candidates from Chief Oguebego, the Chairman of the Anambra State Chapter of the PDP.
It is also instructive that the judgment of the Supreme Court arose from an appeal against proceedings and outcome of proceedings under Hon. Justice Chukwu, which was relied upon by Chief Oguebego.
It is noteworthy that the apex court did not contradict itself in the contentious Anambra PDP leadership crisis, not to talk of dislocating the settled poll of the National Assembly legislators from the state. On the face of the above decisions by the Supreme Court, the whole hullaballoo over the implication of the apex court’s recent ruling of January 29, 2016; may amount to a storm in a teacup!