Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
A Federal High Court in Abuja has again affirmed the sanctity of the process that led to the election of Stella Odauh, Andy Uba, Mrs. Margery Okadigbo, Chris Azubogu and other members of the National Assembly from Anambra State.
Justice Adeniyi Ademola, while delivering a judgment in a suit instituted by Senator Annie Okonkwo and others who claimed they should be the ones representing Anambra at the National Assembly, the court held that only the National Executive Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party could validly nominate candidates for an election.
The judge dismissed the originating summons filed by Okonkwo and his cohorts.
He consequently held that since Ubah, Oduah, Okadigbo and others were nominated by the PDP’s NEC, their nominations remained valid.
Conversely, the judge ruled that Annie Okonkwo and 43 others nominated by the PDP’s state exco in Anambra were not validly nominated and they could therefore not lay claim to the election.
To support his position, the judge cited the Supreme Court’s judgement in the same matter which was delivered earlier this year.
Okonkwo had dragged the Independent National Electoral Commission before the court. However, twenty others including the PDP, Ubah, Oduah, Okadigbo, Azubogu and other whose interest would be affected by the case applied to be joined and were dully made parties to the suit.
Justice Ademola dismissed the suit saying it was an abuse of the processes of the court.
In the judgment that lasted for about an hour, Justice Ademola held that the plaintiffs’ claim that they were the rightfully nominated candidate of the PDP in the National and State House of Assembly election in the March and the April 11, 2016 could not stand in the face of the law because they were unlawfully nominated by the state executive of the party.
The court held that it has been established by the Supreme Court that the power to conduct primary election, nomination of candidates and submission of list of candidates to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was vested on the National Executive Committee (NEC) of political parties.
The judge said, in the instant case the plaintiffs, having emerged from a primary election conducted by the state executive of the PDP, submitted themselves to an act of illegality and as such could not seek legal backing for such a nomination.
The trial judge referred to the Supreme Court judgment of 29th January 2016 and the ruling of the apex court delivered on February 24, 2016 where the issue of the powers of the PDP NEC and the state executive committee was ventilated to the effect that the state organ of the party had no power under the constitution of the party and the Electoral Act to nominate candidates for the purpose of general election.
Justice Ademola said since the Supreme Court had made the clarification via an order, such order must be obeyed by all persons and statutory bodies.
He said: “It is settled law that the state executive committee organ of a political party lacks power to nominate candidates for an election. It is only the primary election conducted by the national executive committee of a party, that is valid to be submitted to INEC for the purpose of an election and no other arm”.
“The plaintiffs’ claims to the effect that they were the validly nominated candidates of the PDP for the 2015 general elections cannot stand in the face of the law, because the Anambra State PDP exco has no legal right or legitimacy to conduct primary elections to nominate candidates.
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