Supreme Court Affirms Gov Obaseki’s Faction As Authentic Edo PDP Delegates

The Supreme Court of Nigeria has on Friday, dismissed an appeal filed by persons loyal to the National Vice-Chairman (South-South) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dan Osi Orbih, seeking to recognise them as authentic delegates produced on April 30, 2022.

The Apex Court dismissed the Appeal marked SC/CV/979/2022, which was lodged by Monday Iyore Osagie & Ors (for the appellants). The Court upheld the judgement of the lower court

“The issue of delegates are non-justicable and domestic affairs of a Political Party,” The Supreme Court ruled.

The seeming crisis rocking the Edo State Chapter of the PDP, over the authentic candidates to fly the party’s flag in states, and National Assembly seats had unsettled the camps of loyalists to Godwin Obaseki and Zonal Vice Chairman of the Party, Orbih.

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With several court judgments and counter judgements trailing the soul of the party, both factions conducted parallel primaries in the State which produced two Candidates for the State Assembly, House of Representatives and Senatorial Seats.

The Crux of the legal issues is the Ward/National Delegates Congress held on April 30, 2022, with these delegates expected to vote at the Primaries. Kingsley Emu, Chairman of the Edo PDP Ward Congress Electoral Committee, had submitted a list of adhoc delegates from the 192 Wards in the State to the PDP NWC.

Dissatisfied with the result of the Congress to elect the delegates for the State and National Assembly Primaries, some persons said to be loyal to Orbih, approached the Federal High Court, (Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/598/2022) with the PDP, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, Sen. Samuel Anyanwu, Umar Bature and INEC as the first to fifth defendants.

Justice Inyang Ekwo agreed with the plaintiffs that they are validly and legally elected as authentic adhoc delegates for Edo State Chapter of the PDP, ordering the PDP & INEC not to tamper with the list. Justice Ekwo’s decision was anchored by documentary evidence and the INEC monitoring report.

This order, however, came after an Edo State High Court under Justice V. O. Eboreime (Suit No: NoB/408/2022), in a suit filed by Victor Enoghama & Ors, upheld the delegates list of members loyal to Governor Obaseki.

The State Chapter of the PDP approached the Appeal Court in Abuja, asking the Court to throw out the judgement of Justice Ekwo. In a July 25 ruling, Justice Stephen Jonah Adah JCA who upturned the decision of the FHC, held that the adhoc delegates election of the Edo PDP remains part of the domestic affairs of the party for which the court cannot interfere under pre-election litigation.

“We cannot go against our earlier decisions in Kano and Edo State”, Justice Adah added.

Simultaneously, Iyore Osagie & Ors appealed the judgement of the Edo State High Court. The Benin Court of Appeal, in a ruling read by Justice Misitura Omodere Bolaji-Yusuff JCA, vacated Justice Eboreime’s judgement, holding that the lower court had no jurisdiction as the Electoral Act places the responsibility of pre-election litigations with the Federal High Court.

Both appeals with (Iyore Osagie & Ors v PDP & Ors) and (Iyore Osagie & Ors v Victor Enoghama & Ors) were then forwarded to the Supreme Court.

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