There was confusion on Saturday in Anambra over the conduct of the governorship primary election of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as two factions of the party held separate elections.
This is as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said it would comply with an Abuja High Court judgement dismissing the sacking of the Anambra State PDP executives.
Meanwhile, two factions of the PDP on Saturday elected Senator Ugochukwu Uba and Valentine Ozigbo as the respective standard bearers in the November 6 poll.
While Uba was elected candidate of a faction led by Chukwudi Imeaba, a loyalist of his brother and self-styled godfather of the party, Chief Chris Uba, Valentine was elected at an exercise organized by an opposing faction.
The court on June 9, 2021 had dismissed the applications filed by the national office of the PDP and two others.
But INEC, in a letter addressed to national chairman of the PDP, Uche Secondus and dated Friday, June 25, said it had received the High Court judgement dismissing the sacking of the Anambra PDP executives.
The electoral commission in the letter signed by the Secretary to the Commission, Rose Oriaran-Anthony told the PDP national chairman that it would comply with June 9 judgement.
INEC said: “The Commission has been served with the judgement of the High Court of the FCT delivered on 9th June, 2021 in suit No. FCT/HC/774/2012- Between Samuel Anyakorah vs PDP & ors regarding the Anambra State PDP executives.
” Consequent upon the above, the Commission wishes to intimate you on the need to comply with same. Accept the assurance of the Commission’s high regards, please.”
However, Justice Olukayode Adeniyi of the High Court sitting in Maitama Abuja, in a ruling held that the three applicants – the PDP, Chief Ndubisi Nwobu and Barr. Uchenna Obiora – failed to make out a case to warrant the grant of their application that sought to stay the judgment pending the determination of the appeal.
Justice Adeniyi, who came down hard on the applicants for earlier denigrating the court in their reaction to the judgment, held that they did not show that the non-staying of the judgment would either render their appeals nugatory or make it impossible for the party to conduct its primary for the forthcoming governorship election.
The judge voided all the activities engaged in by the party since June 9, when the judgment was delivered, including the elections it conducted on June 10 and 11 to elect a three-man ad-hoc ward delegate that would participate in the voting at the primary of the PDP scheduled for June 26, 2021.
Justice Adeniyi said the statement made on June 9, by the State Publicity Secretary of the PDP Anambra in which he disparaged the court and its judgment was an affront to the court, adding that they do not expect a court they have insulted to grant them an indulgence.
He said: “The first applicant (the PDP), which is the principal party has maintained in the face of this court that its judgment is null and void for want of jurisdiction. The same party cannot at the same time seek equitable reliefs from the same court.
“A party that has no regard for the judgment of a court and described it in derogatory terms to the whole world, as shown in Exhibit C, cannot quietly return to the same court to seek equitable relief to stay the same judgment that it defied and defiled.
“An assessment of the totality of the circumstances that have been presented before me by the instant applications leads to only one conclusion, which is that the applicants do not have an iota of respect for the authority of this court, they issued a release to embolden their members not to reckon with the judgment of the court and followed it up by taking of definite contemptuous steps in disregard of the court’s judgment.
“For them to come back with a motion for stay of execution and injunction pending the determination of their appeal, in my view, is a clear afterthought. I there say that no court worth its authority will grant any such application, no matter how well presented and argued,” Justice Adeniyi said.
The June 9 judgment, which they sought to stay was on a suit marked: HC/CV/774/2021 filed by Samuel Anyakolah (for himself and all local government chairmen and ward executives that emerged from the Anambra PDP congress conducted on November 28 and December 1, 2017 under the supervision of Sir Chukwudi Umeaba, as Acting Chairman State Caretaker Committee).
The judge agreed with the plaintiff/claimant that the PDP violated its constitution in the conduct of the Southeast zonal congress of March 6, 2021 and the appointments made therein.
He declared among others, that “all congresses, designations or appointments made by the first defendant (the PDP), with respect to the positions of the state chairman, EXCO members and local government chairmen, as contained in pages 14,15 and 16 of the Southeast zonal congress brochure of 6th March 2021 are hereby nullified and set aside.”
The judge ordered the PDP to henceforth recognise and adopt only the list of the already inaugurated party officers and delegates that emerged from the Anambra PDP congresses conducted on November 28, 2017 and December 1, 2017 validated by Senator Grace Bent Ward Congress Appeal Panel report and Barrister Ukpai Ukairo Local Government Appeal Panel report, under the supervision of Sir Chukwudi Umeaba, who shall continue to act in the capacities for which they were duly elected.
Meanwhile, two hundred and eighteen automatic delegates of the party were accredited to vote in the Primary election by a faction of the party said to be recognised by the national leadership of the party.
Edo State Deputy Governor and Secretary Anambra PDP Governorship Primary Election Committee, Philip Shaibu revealed these before the commencement of voting.
Shaibu, who stood in for Benue State Governor, Mr Samuel Ortom, who was announced as the chairman of the committee said, the party had little hitch that caused a delay in the process, but would start voting soon.
He addressed journalists at the Prof. Dora Akunyili Women Development Centre, shortly after a closed door meeting with governorship aspirants.
He said: “We just concluded the first round of accreditation and the second and most important is the one we just started now. What we just did was to get everybody that is a delegate here and left every other person that has no business in here outside. The next stage is for them to go inside and we give them the accreditation tags.
“We had a little hitch at the beginning, because we had to stop every aspirant at the gate and searched them. The aspirants were not comfortable with that. But it is just measures we had to put in place for safety and measures for transparency and for everybody to be carried along to make sure that we have a successful primary that would be seemingly said to be free, fair and acceptable by all.”
He said his happiness was that the aspirants had so far conducted themselves well, adding that some had even stepped down for others to ensure a seamless process.
“I am determined to have a free, fair and credible primaries and that is why we engaged ourselves inside to make sure that all the fears of the aspirants are sorted out. At the end of the day, we all agreed to go ahead.
“Interestingly, three aspirants stepped down and they also pledged loyalty to the party and whoever will emerge as winner in this primaries because for them, they are determined to work with whoever that emerges today to reclaim the Government House,” he said.
Announcing Uba as winner, the returning officer, Chief Obidi Ebede said the senator got 275 votes to defeated his closest rival, Godwin Ezeemo with 114, while Senator Uche Ekwunife scored 56 votes to come third. He said there were 665 accredited delegates.
At the parallel primary, Ozigbo, the immediate past President and Group CEO of Transcorp Plc, alsoemerged the PDP candidate, an exercise also held at the Prof Dora Akunyili Women Development Center, Awka.
Ozigbo polled 62 votes out of the 218 votes cast. He beat his closest rivals, Dr Obiora Okonkwo, who polled 58 votes and Senator Uche Ekwunife, who polled 44 votes.
16 aspirants went into the contest for the ticket of the party, but three of the aspirants: Barr Emeka Etiaba, Dr Tony Nwoye and Mr. Chuma Nzeribe stepped down from the contest.
Other Aspirants, who polled votes in the contest were Walter Ubaka Okeke, two votes; Chris Azubogu, 10 votes; Genevieve Ekwochi, three votes; Chidi Onyemwlukwe, two votes; Ifedi Okwenna, one vote; Winston Udeh 12 votes; Godwin Maduka, five votes, while three votes were voided.
Announcing the result, secretary of the PDP primary election committee, Shaibu said: “I, Comrade Philip Shaibu by the powers conferred on me, I hereby declare Mr. Valentine Ozigbo as the winner of the PDP Anambra Governorship election, having scored the highest votes.”
Chuks Okocha and David-Chyddy Eleke in Awka