INEC, PDP ask court to dismiss suit on Anambra PDP primaries
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), have asked the Federal High Court, Abuja to dismiss the suit brought before it by Senator Annie Okonkwo and 43 others.
Okonkwo and his colleagues were challenging the validity of primary election conducted by the PDP, which produced Senators Andy Ubah, Stella Oduah, and others, as candidates for the 2015 National Assembly elections.
Both INEC and PDP claimed that the legal action instituted by Senator Annie Okonkwo and 43 others was a gross abuse of court process on the ground that the issues raised by the Plaintiffs had already been resolved by the Supreme Court.
Okonkwo and others had through their lawyers; Chief Asam Asam (SAN) dragged INEC, PDP, Ubah, Oduah and 15 lawmakers in the National Assembly and Anambra State House of Assembly before the Court, asking the court to invalidate the nomination of the defendants.
The Plaintiffs also applied for an order of the court restraining INEC from accepting the nomination of Ubah and his colleagues in the national and state assemblies on the ground that they were not nominated by the state executive committee of PDP led by Mr. Ejike Oguebegu.
The Plaintiffs claimed that since Oguebegu-led Anambra State PDP committee conducted the primary election, nominated them and their names published by INEC, it was wrong in law for their names to be withdrawn from INEC’s list.
They also demanded in their suit that the purported removal of their names from the INEC list violated provisions of the law and should be set aside while their names are restored.
However, in the adoption of final addresses yesterday before Justice Adeniyi Ademola, INEC, while opposing the suit, claimed that the case of Okonkwo and other Plaintiffs had been overtaken by a Supreme Court judgment delivered on January 29 by Justice John Iyang-Okoro.
Counsel to INEC, Dr. Onyeachi Ikpeazu (SAN) while adopting the final address of the electoral body, told justice Ademola that the case of the plaintiffs constituted a gross abuse of court process since the issue in contention had already been resolved by the Supreme Court.
INEC claimed that in that Supreme Court judgment , Justice Okoro made it clear that the power to conduct a primary election for the nomination of candidates for national assembly elections is vested in the national executive committee of a political party and not in the state executive of any party.
In the instant case, INEC claimed that the fact that the national executive committee of the PDP conducted the primary election for the nomination of national assembly members from Anambra state was not in dispute. He, however, pointed out that it was wrong of the plaintiffs to be claiming to be PDP nominees for the 2015 national assembly election because their primary elections were unlawful, illegally and unconstitutionally conducted by Anambra State chapter of PDP under Oguebegu.
The counsel further argued that the plaintiffs were just asking the Court to have a head-on collision with the Supreme Court which, will not be in the best interest of the judiciary and litigants.
He therefore urged Justice Ademola to decline the invitation of the plaintiffs to dabble into an issue that had already been resolved by the apex court by dismissing the suit for lacking merit.
Also in its final argument, Counsel to PDP, Emeka Etiaba (SAN) asked the court to dismiss the suit on the ground that the right organ of the Party vested with power conducted the primary election that produced the nomination of the national lawmakers from State for the 2015 election.
PDP also submitted that the purported claim of the plaintiffs as the right candidates to be in the National Assembly cannot stand in law because the purported primary election conducted by the Obuebegu-led state executive committee was not known to any law.
Counsel for Senators Andy Uba, Stella Oduah and other defendants in the suit, unanimously adopted the position of INEC and PDP and urged the Judge to dismiss the suit.
Justice Ademola has adjourned the matter till July 8 for judgment.