How Appeal Court Faulted PDP In Ekwunife’s Nomination
With the above assertion, the Court of Appeal, Enugu Division, presided over by Justice A. D. Yahaya, ruled in favour of the appeal filed by Chief Victor Umeh against the National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal judgment that upheld the return of Senator Uche Ekwunife, as the winner of Anambra Central Senatorial election.
Faulting the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on the issue of nomination of candidates for election in Anambra State, the appellate court noted that Section 65(2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution, which presupposes party selection and candidate participation in an election, must be supported by due observance of the political party’s constitution and guidelines.
The appellate court therefore held that the confusion over Ekwunife’s nomination was accentuated by the fact that she denied taking part in the Ejike Oguebego-led factional State Executive of PDP adding; “the 11th respondent (Ekwunife) could not have been properly nominated, since that was the faction that had the primaries monitored by the INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission).
The court also stated that the failure of the 11th respondent to tender a list of the adhoc delegates who emerged from the ward congress to show that the ward congress was held and who it was conducted by, damaged her plea of proper nomination for the election.
It further noted: “I also expect that the 11th respondent would tender a list of those who took part in the state primary that produced her nomination. This will show to this court, whether it was only the adhoc delegates that constituted the primary or some other persons and who they are, also participated.
“This is very crucial, in view of the submission of the appellants that by paragraph 25(1) of the PDP Constitution, the state party congress consists among others, of the state chairman, the state executive committee and the three delegates per ward, elected at the ward congresses. None of the respondents answered this crucial issue.”
The Appeal Court also declared that the “‘National body of PDP’ in Anambra State cannot and has not been shown to be the National Executive Committee of the PDP imbued with responsibility to conduct the primary.”
“It is therefore clear from that point, that it was not the proper body that conducted the primary, which produced the 11th respondent as the nominated candidate for the election. Even if the ‘National body of PDP in Anambra State’ conducted primary, was sanctioned by the NWC and NEC of PDP, it was not the body imbued with the responsibility to conduct the primary.
“Where is the document appointing the National body of PDP in Anambra State, and mandating it to conduct the primary? Who were the members? Is this body not the caretaker committee referred to by the appellants as the body that conducted the primary?
“Where is the South East Zonal Executive appointed to oversee the affairs of the Anambra State chapter of the PDP? What role did it play or was it one of the bodies bandied about? This is because the caretaker committee was not the one mandated to hold or conduct the primaries, according to the court of Appeal judgment in CA/A/737/2014 (on the Anambra PDP crisis).”
Picking holes further on Anambra PDP’s handling of the nomination process, the Court remarked that since the State Executive Committee and the State Chairman of PDP both play a role in the primary (State Special Congress) to nominate a candidate, “it follows therefore, that if there was no state executive (and a caretaker was not mandated to hold primary), the State Special Congress could not be properly constituted to hold the primary to nominate a candidate.”
“Further, if the state executive committee is polarized with different factions, which of the factional chairmen would attend the state special congress to nominate a candidate? …So, whether it was the ‘National body of PDP in Anambra State’, the 5-man National Assembly Electoral Committee, or the caretaker committee that conducted the primary, which produced the 11th respondent as the nominated candidate of PDP to the contest the election, it is immaterial.
“The 11th respondent was therefore not the product of a valid primary and was therefore not duly and legitimately nominated. That has disqualified her from contesting the election into Anambra Central Senatorial district. Consequently the perverse decision, which held that, the 11th respondent had been properly and legitimately sponsored by the 12th respondent (PDP), must and is hereby set aside.
“In view of this, it is totally unnecessary to go into the other issues for determination as we have set aside the judgment for being perverse. Nothing can be built on it,” the Court ruled.
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