Barely 48 hours after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) expressly declared that three-man adhoc delegates ward congresses did not take place in Abia State for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), a court order aimed to forcing the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party to use a list purported to be outcome of the exercise has be procured ahead of primaries in the state.
INEC had, in response to an inquiry by a lawyer on the status of the three-man adhoc delegates ward congresses for Abia PDP, said no election took place after the cancelled exercise earlier scheduled for May 4, 2022.
In a move aimed at stopping the PDP NWC from rejecting a three-man adhoc delegates list submitted as outcome of three-man adhoc ward congresses in Abia, one Mr. Akuoma Friday on May 17, 2022 obtained an Exparte Order stating that the PDP primaries in Abia State shall have only the controversy three-man adhoc delegates as electors at primaries.
The order issued by Justice CU Okoroafor of the High Court of Abia State sitting in Aba stated: “The 1st to 5th Defendant/Respondent (PDP, PDP Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu; PDP Abia State Chairman, Allwell Okere, PDP national organising Secretary, and INEC), their agents, privies and employees howsoever described are hereby restrained in the interim from using, adopting or relying on any other list apart from the three-man adhoc list annexed herein as Exhibit ‘D’ as that has the name of the Claimant based on the adhoc election congresses or election of the 1st defendant (PDP) held on 6th May 2022 pending hearing and determination of the motion of notice.”
The order also restrained the INEC from “recognising and monitoring any primaries by the 1st defendant (PDP) sought to be conducted with any other delegates list from the 1st defendant (PDP) other than the three-man adhoc delegates list annexed hereto as Exhibit ‘D’ which contains the name of the Applicant as one of the three-man adhoc delegates congresses or election held in Abia State on 6th May 2022 pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.”
The court adjourned till May 25, 2022, the day the Abia State governorship primary is scheduled, after the House of Assembly and National Assembly primaries would have taken place.
By the order, statutory delegates in Abia State have been barred from participating in any primary.
Reacting to the order, a lawyer said it contravenes the Practice Directions issued by the Chief Justice of Nigeria and the internal constitution of the PDP and would spell doom for the party.
According to him, the court order has unwittingly set up a situation whereby any primary conducted based on it could be null and void, thereby leading to PDP not having candidates in Abia, as experienced by the APC in Zamfara and Rivers states in 2019.
He advised the PDP NWC to ovoid this impending disaster by postponing the primaries in Abia State, pending the vacation of the order.
Controversy has trailed the affairs of Abia PDP following the plot to foist a preferred governorship candidate on the party by the state governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu.
Following stiff opposition, the governor’s camp has taken action to ensure the preferred aspirant emerges, including the compilation of three-man adhoc delegates list when no ward congresses took place, as confirmed by INEC.
Following petitions by chieftains of PDP in Abia, including former Senate President, Adolphus Wabara, former Chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Chief Onyema Ugochukwu and ex-Secretary to State Government in Abia, Dr. Eme Okoro, the PDP NWC was going to order use of statutory delegates in Abia.
The court order, it was believed, was obtained to preempt the PDP NWC.