27th September, 2022
By Jethro Ibileke
The Benin Division of the Federal High Court on Tuesday ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to recognize and publish names of candidates produced by the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led faction of the Edo chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as standard-bearers of the party in the 2023 general elections.
The order is coming eight days after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), published the list of candidates who emerged from the congress conducted by the National Vice Chairman (South-South) of the party, Dan Orbih-led faction.
INEC said it published the names based on a Court order.
Plaintiffs in the suit include the party’s candidate for Edo South Senatorial District, Matthew Iduoriyekemwen, Sunny Aguebor for Oredo Federal Constituency, and the flag bearer for Akoko Edo Federal Constituency, Kabiru Adjoto, among others.
They are all candidates produced by Obaseki faction of PDP for different positions in 2023 election.
The court in a judgement delivered by Hon. Justice S.M. Shuaibu, granted all the reliefs sought by the plaintiffs.
Amongst the reliefs sought by the plaintiffs is an Order of Court mandating the fourth defendant, INEC, to publish the names of the plaintiffs as the validly-elected candidates of the Edo PDP for the 2023 general elections.
Shuaibu noted that based on past decisions by the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal, the State chapter of a political party is not empowered by law to conduct party primaries and that only the National Working Committee (NWC) of a political party has the power to conduct party primaries.
He held that “there is nothing before the Honourable Court to show that the primaries in which the 4th 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.
“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 the light of the foregoing, the fourth defendant, INEC, cannot rely on results prepared by the first defendant, Edo PDP.”