Court Declares Obaseki Faction As Authentic Candidates

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The Independent National Electoral Commission has been ordered by a Federal High Court in Benin to recognize and publish the names of candidates put forth by the Governor Godwin Obaseki’s faction of the Edo State Peoples Democratic Party as the party’s standard-bearers in the upcoming 2023 elections.

This is the Federal High Court’s second decision.

The first occurred in May when Chief Dan Orbih’s division of the party in Edo received approval from an Abuja Federal High Court under the leadership of Justice Inyang Ekpo.

Justice S.M. Shuaibu however, on Tuesday, granted all the plaintiffs’ requests for relief.

The plaintiffs 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.

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 election.

The Judge 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 of a political party has the power to conduct party primaries.

He said, “There is nothing before the Honourable Court to show that the primaries in which the fourth to 39th defendants participated were conducted by the National Working Committee of the PDP. Rather, their primaries were conducted by the Edo State chapter of the PDP.”

The Judge held, “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,” he noted