By Ozioruva Aliu
BENIN CITY— A Federal High Court sitting in Benin City, Edo State, yesterday, ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to recognise and publish the names of candidates produced by the Governor Godwin Obaseki faction of the Edo Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as standard-bearers of the party in the forthcoming 2023 elections.
In the judgement delivered by Justice S. Shuaibu, the court granted all the reliefs sought by the plaintiffs.
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.
Among the reliefs sought by the plaintiffs were 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.
The judge noted 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 and that only the National Working Committee, NWC, of a political party that has the power to conduct party primaries.
According to him, “there is nothing before the 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, INEC cannot rely on results prepared by the first defendant, Edo PDP.”