By Ikechukwu Nnochiri, ABUJA
The Supreme Court, yesterday, declined jurisdiction to hear the internal dispute rocking the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Edo State.
The apex court, in a unanimous decision by a five-man panel led by Justice Amina Augie, dismissed two appeals that were filed by a faction of the party in the state, loyal to Chief Dan Orbih.
The panel held that the appeal marked: SC/CV/980/2022 and SC/CV/979/2022, which was filed by Adhoc Committee members of Chief Orbih’s faction led by Hon. Monday Iyore Osagie, was non-justiceable, being a domestic affair of a political party.
It held that no court has the jurisdiction to meddle in an internal affair of a political party.
In its lead judgement that was delivered by Justice Emmanuel Agim, the apex court, upheld the Court of Appeal verdict that earlier dismissed the appeals for want of jurisdiction.
Justice Agim held that the issue of the choice of candidates for elections in Edo State is an internal affair of the PDP.
He held that the appellants, who claimed to be the authentic ad-hoc delegates in the state, lacked the locus standi to invite the court to meddle in the intra-party affair, adding that by provisions of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, only aspirants could approach the court on disputes relating to candidates for an election.
The apex court noted that the appellants were not candidates that participated in PDP’s primary and as such, lacked the necessary rights to initiate the suit.
“The Court of Appeal correctly held that the matter is an intra-party affair. It is not justiciable and not within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court.
“On the whole, the appeal fails and it is accordingly dismissed”, Justice Agim held.
The Court of Appeal in Abuja had earlier nullified the Federal High Court judgement that recognized Chief Orbih’s faction as authentic delegates of the PDP for the 2023 National and State House of Assembly elections in Edo State.
The appellate court held that the trial court acted wrongly when it assumed jurisdiction and decided the suit that was filed by the faction of the party loyal to Chief Orbih, a dispute it said was a domestic affair of the PDP.
The PDP in Edo state had been enmeshed in crisis over the composition of Ad hoc delegates that will participate in the primary election of the party.
While a faction of the party pledged allegiance to the governor of the state, Godwin Obaseki, the other faction remained loyal to Chief Orbih.
It will be recalled that whereas governor Obaseki got his first term ticket on the platform of the All Progressive Congress, APC, he subsequently decamped to the PDP, where he won his second term.