By Mike Odiakose
There are indications that the primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in Abia, Anambra, Edo and Imo states may be annulled over the use of delegates that were not validly elected at the Ward level.
Prior to the conduct of the congresses, the National Working Committee, NWC was given legal advisory not to use the 3 delegates elected at Ward level because of subsisting court cases and breach of Section 82(5) of the Electoral Act 2022.
Rather, the advisory obtained by Nigerian Pilot suggested that the party should use only statutory delegates to elect their candidates in the affected states to avoid annulment of the primaries.
However, President Muhammadu Buhari’s delay in signing amendment of the 2022 Electoral Act torpedoed PDP’s plans to use only statutory delegates in states where there are valid petitions over the list of elected delegates and keep the elected delegates away from the primaries.
In Abia state the legal advisor to the NWC affirmed that all the delegates were elected in clear breach of provisions of Section 82(5) of the Electoral Act 2022.
There are four suits challenging the 3-Ad hoc delegates’ election.
Abia delegates’ election was eventually fixed for May but the state government declared a public holiday on the same day which stalled the conduct of the delegate’s election.
However, the Abia state chapter of PDP unilaterally organised the delegate’s election on May 6, an exercise the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC has declared as invalid as only the national leadership of political parties are empowered to conduct delegate’s election in line with the Electoral Act.
Part of the report to the PDP NWC on the conduct of the Abia delegates election read: “There are fundamental defects in the ad hoc delegates election conducted on the 6th of May, 2022.”
“The defect is predicted on two grounds: there was no notice given to INEC from the national level for the said ad hoc delegate’s election of 6th May, 2022 which renders the same invalid under Section 82(5) of the Electoral Act 2022.
“The notice for the ad hoc election of 6th May, 2022 was given to the Abia State Resident Electoral Commissioner by the Abia State Chairman of the party.
“In the said notice, he stated the composition of the members of the committee that conducted the ad hoc delegate’s election.
“By implication, he was the one that gave the notice and set up the committee that conducted the ad hoc delegates election. This did not meet the requirements of the law.
“It is therefore in the interest of the party not to use the three ad hoc delegates that emerged from the congress conducted on the 6th of May, 2022 in the conduct of any primary election in Abia State.
“The party risks the entire primaries being nullified if they are allowed to participate.”
In Anambra state, the legal advisory suggested to the NWC to use only statutory delegates “because of existing court orders and pending litigations.”
No state congress was conducted in Anambra as a result of pending litigations and court orders affecting the Wards and Local Government Areas congresses.
In Edo state there are two conflicting orders made by different courts regarding the 3 Ad-hoc delegates elections.
The PDP wanted to play safe by using only statutory delegates but that plan could not materialise because of delay by President Buhari to sign the amended Electoral Act.
Eventually, two parallel primaries were conducted by Governor Godwin Obaseki and Dan Orbih’s faction in the state on Sunday.
In Imo state a member of the party, Mrs. Chidinma Nancy Uzoma dragged the PDP to FCT High Court alleging that there was no Ad-hoc delegates election in the entire local government areas of Imo state and on May 6 the court gave an order of interim injunction restraining the PDP from recognizing the result of the 3 Ad-hoc election or allowing those that emerged from participating in the primary election in Imo state.
Mrs. Uzoma was one of the aspirants cleared by the PDP to contest Ideato North/Ideato South Federal Constituency primary election.