The Supreme Court on Wednesday declared the candidates who emerged from the primaries conducted by the Gov Godwin Obaseki-led faction of the PDP in Edo as the authentic representatives of the party.
This judgment delivered by Justice Centus Nweze brings to an end the long-drawn legal battle to decide which of the two factions is in control of the state chapter of the party.
Delivering the judgment in the appeal filed by Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama and others against Mr Mathew Iduoriyekemwen and others, the apex court held that the case of the appellant was faulty as it did not emanate from the judgment of the appellate court.
The court in its judgment dismissed the appeal on the grounds that it was incompetent.
The judgment set aside the judgment of the Appeal Court which was in favour of candidates belonging to the Legacy Group of the PDP in Edo State led by the National Vice Chairman of the party, Chief Dan Orbih.
The judge held that an appeal must be based on issues contended at the lower court to qualify for review.
“Any ground of appeal that does not challenge issues raised at the lower court is incompetent. I enter judgment in favour of the respondents “, the apex court held.
The judgment which arose from a consolidation of all cases relating to the leadership tussle has put to rest anxiety as to the right persons to represent the party in the elections.
The battle for control of the PDP apparatus in Edo state between Obaseki and Orbih took a different dimension when the two groups presented two different lists of aspirants to INEC following parallel primaries conducted by the two factions.
The crux of the matter is who has the power the primary election for the selection of party flag bearers for the National Assembly and State House of Assembly elections slated for February 25 and March 11, this year.
Wednesday’s unanimous decision by the supreme court, therefore, means the candidates who emerged from the ward up to the national primaries conducted by the Obaseki faction of the Edo PDP will be fielded for elective positions.
Both Obaseki and a National Vice Chairman of the PDP, Chief Dan Orhbi have been locked in a leadership battle for the soul of the party in Edo State.
A Federal High Court in Abuja had in May last year recognized orbih’s faction as the authentic candidates, another in Benin City, gave recognition to Obaseki’s faction.
Both also appealed the judgment of the trial court entered against them at the Court of Appeal.
Speaking with newsmen shortly after the judgment was delivered, Philip Shaibu, the deputy governor of the state who was in court to witness the proceedings expressed joy that the matter has been finally put to rest.
He called on all PDP members to close ranks to deliver for the party in all the elections, stating that there was no winner or loser as the victory was for the PDP.
Shuaibu urged aggrieved parties to embrace peace said that the umbrella is now widen to accommodate all.
A Federal High Court in Benin-city, Edo had ordered INEC to recognise and publish the names of candidates produced by Obaseki’s faction as PDP’s candidates in the 2023 elections.
Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja, in a related suit ordered INEC to recognise the candidates of Chief Dan Orbih faction as authentic candidates of the PDP for the forthcoming elections.
The parties in their various suits had asked the court for an order compelling INEC, to publish their names as the validly elected candidates of the Edo State PDP for the 2023 general election.
In his judgment, Justice S. M. Shuaibu of the Federal High Court, Benin relying on past decisions by the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal, held that only the National Working Committee (NWC) of a political party has the power to conduct party primaries.
“There is nothing before the court to show that the primaries in which the fourth to 39th defendants participated was conducted by the National Working Committee of the PDP. Rather, their primaries were conducted by the Edo State chapter of the PDP,” the judge held.
The Judge further held: “In my view, the power of INEC under Section 84 of the Electoral Act is limited to monitoring of party primary elections and does not extend to preparing or declaring the results of that election. This remains the law.
“In light of the foregoing, the fourth defendant, INEC, cannot rely on results prepared by the first defendant, Edo State PDP.”
Dissatisfied, the Orbih’s faction appealed the judgment up to the Supreme Court, where judgment was today entered against them.