The Supreme Court on Wednesday resolved the crisis in the Edo State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in favour of a faction loyal to Governor Godwin Obaseki.
The apex court delivered the ruling in an appeal filed by a lawmaker representing the Oredo Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama.
The Edo State chapter of PDP has been embroiled in a dispute over the validity of primaries conducted by factions loyal to the governor and the party’s National Vice-Chairman, South-South, Dan Orbih.
Justice S.M. Shuaibu of the Federal High Court, Benin, had on September 22 last year ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to recognise and publish the names of candidates produced by a faction loyal to Obaseki in the state.
The judge, who gave the verdict in a suit filed by the trio of Matthew Iduoriyekemwen, Sunny Aguebor and Kabiru Adjoto, held that based on past decisions by the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal, the state chapter of a political party was not empowered by law to conduct party primaries.
He insisted that only the National Working Committee (NWC) of a political party has the power to conduct party primaries.
However, the Court of Appeal, Benin City, on November 26, 2022, ruled in favour of Orbih’s faction.
The appellate court declared those elected in the primaries conducted by Orbih’s faction as the duly elected PDP candidates in the state.
However, at Wednesday’s proceeding, a five-member panel of the Supreme Court dismissed as incompetent the appeal filed by Ogbeide-Ihama on the ground that the issues he raised did not form part of the judgment of the Court of Appeal which he had appealed.
Justice Centus Nweze, who delivered the lead judgment, held that an appeal must be based on issues contended at the lower court to qualify for a review.
Meanwhile, Governor Obaseki has extended a hand of friendship to the Orbih’s faction following the Supreme Court’s ruling that ended in his favour.
In a statement he personally signed, the governor described the ruling as “No Victor, No vanquished,” and urged the party members to work for its success in this month’s elections.
The statement read: “The ruling of the Supreme Court today, finally put to rest the long-drawn legal tussle over the candidates that will fly the flag of our great party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Edo State in the general election on the 25th of February and 11th of March 2023.
“As the leader of the party in the state, I implore all members to consider this development as the end of all strife within the Edo PDP and to note that this is a victory for all members. Our resolve now is to win the forthcoming general elections as this experience has made us stronger and better prepared to clinch victory.
“This disagreement which has now been amicably resolved attests to the maturity of actors who as law-abiding party members have subjected themselves to and accepted the verdict of the courts.
“As there are no victors or vanquished in this issue, I want to call on all members of our party to come together to speak with one voice against the real opponents since our party is big enough to accommodate our variegated interests.
“The ongoing crisis in our Nation which has been choreographed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) is subjecting Nigerians to perhaps the most tortuous living conditions in our history since the Civil War between 1967 and 1970. Our efforts must now be directed to removing the APC from power and restoring our blessed country.
“I, therefore, call on all our members in Edo State to stand up and be counted among the brave party men and women who stood to be counted in the execution of this all-important task to rescue Nigeria and pull it back from the precipice.”