Justice Fatun Riman of the Federal High Court sitting in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital, has nullified the re-conducted primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) held in the state on June 4 and 5, 2022.
The court upheld the primaries of May 28 and 29, 2022 which were cancelled by the National Working Committee (NWC) of 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 the Ebonyi 2023 governorship election.
In the rescheduled primary election held on Sunday, Chairman Senate Committee on Sports, Senator Obinna Ọgba, emerged the winner.
However, a few hours after he received the certificate of return from the PDP National Secretariat Abuja, on Tuesday, the court declared his election null, void and illegal.
While the May primary was conducted by the Silas Ọnụ-led faction of the party, the rescheduled primary was conducted by Tochukwu Okorie’s faction.
The national leadership midway into the governorship primary election on May 29 announced the cancellation of the primary elections for the state, citing a breach of the party’s guidelines as the reason.
But the primaries went ahead and Mr Ifeanyi Ọdịi emerged the winner even though most of the aspirants either boycotted or withdrew from the said election.
The party later fixed another primary for June 4 and 5, 2023 in which fresh candidates emerged including Senator Obinna Ọgba who emerged as the winner of the rescheduled governorship election.
Mr Ọdịị and others who emerged in the cancelled primaries, however, boycotted the rescheduled election.
Prior to the cancellation of the primaries, Odii had approached the court to order the party not to reschedule the primaries already conducted in the state.
Odii through his lawyer, Mudi Erhenede argued that the 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 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 a valid and subsequent meeting 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.”
But delivering judgment in the suit, Justice Riman agreed with the plaintiff and granted all the reliefs sought.
The Judge noted that the rescheduled primaries were held in flagrant disregard to the party’s guidelines and constitution.
The court noted that the rescheduled primaries flouted the Electoral Law as amended as INEC did not monitor it.