By Jerome Eramho

27th July, 2022

Since the Appeal Court sitting in Abuja delivered a landmark judgement on the lingering crisis in Edo PDP on Monday, 25th July, 2022, much have been said, assumed or anticipated or further issues or challenges the said judgement has thrown and a lots of propaganda especially on social media on the validity or otherwise of the PDP Presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar ticket.

No doubt the judgement has offered key legal solutions as far as Edo PDP is concern. One, it has further legalize and institutionalize the constitutionality of the supremacy of the party, PDP in the management, administration and conduct of her internal activities particularly the election of the Ad-hoc Delegates, which has been the bone of contention in the crisis rocking the Edo PDP. The judgement has settled the fundamental issues in the conduct of congresses, primaries and party Convention that issue of delegates is a domestic party affair and that nobody including the Courts can decide for the party. This no doubt can further be argued and tested at the Supreme Court but while they plan to do that, may they be reminded that the Supreme Court judgement has always be based on relevant laws and there are substantial Courts precedents enough to prove them wrong at the Supreme Court. Threatening to put down the pillars holding the party is rather most unfortunate to say. They have argued that the issue of delegates be a domestic affair has long be settled by Supreme Court and that is not enough. They now complained about the process and Court jurisdiction. 

The 2nd key implication of the Appeal Court judgement is that the authenticity of the Edo PDP flag-bearers have been proved legally, now known and accepted polifically. The political implications of that judgement is that it's only candidates that emerged from the primaries conducted and recognised by PDP NWC are the authentic party candidates. Remember that PDP NWC sent down national electoral committee that conducted the House of Assembly, House of Representatives and Senatorial primaries in Edo State. But some loyalists of the South - South PDP Vice - Chairman, Chief Dan Osi Orbih boycotted the the exercise for reasons best known to them. 
The issue at stake is who should be responsible for the conduct of primaries and who should sponsor candidates? Is it the party or an individual or the INEC? They never complained about undue process in the conduct but rather decided to conduct their own primaries in unofficial venues and asked INEC and Courts to validate same for them but things don't work like that. If they have issue with the party in respect of the exercise, I expect them to have followed the processes or procedures provided by the party to resolve issues internally in PDP. They went to Court and paraded lists of candidates claiming they are INEC certified making the electoral body now the sponsors of candidates rather than the supervisory and monitoring roles in the conduct of primaries. No Court will impose illegality on the party. The roles of INEC is well spelt out in S.82 and S.84 of the Electoral Act (2022 As Amended). There is no division or faction in Edo PDP, the 18 LGA Party Chairmen and 192 Wards Chairmen are working with the Edo PDP State Executive Committee led by Dr. Tony Aziegbemhi while the National Chairman, Dr Iyorchia Ayu - led National Executive Committee is intact and working with Dr. Tony Aziegbemhi. If not for external influence and interferences by external vested interest I don't think all these would have happened. 
I learnt Chief Dan Orbih's legal adviser has this to say:

"If the PDP NWC, BoT or any level dare recognises the delegates that were not recognised at the National Convention, I belt you a PDP Presidential Aspirant will go to Court to challenge that it was ILLEGAL DELEGATES that voted ATIKU. I believe PDP would not want to risk that."

While I may consider this as social media news since I got this from Rita Ebiuwa Facebook wall and may not be true I wish to tell those who think along this line to please forget going to Supreme Court as it will only amount to exercise in futility, time and resources wasted.

 One, if that statement is anything to go by with, am worried that all they think about is the invalidation of Atiku ticket and not how party Supremacy should be observed and respected. Why in a hurry to take action against the party? Have they suddenly lost confidence in their party leadership? Why should the party not honour Court judgement, has the party become so lawless not to respect court judgement? Let me remind that lawyer that he should remember PDP has been law abiding and will continue to be. Has this lawyer just forgot how his client procured a midnight Court order restraining the party from accepting and using the Edo PDP delegates list duly recognised by the party NWC and asked Dan Orbih list be accepted and use for the election. The Appeal Court judgement now means the Dan Orbih Court order was only procured to buy time and that expires the moment this judgement takes effect. The implication of this judgement is that all previous actions and inactions become silent and assumed never happened or existed. It would have rather be wrong for PDP to have gone ahead to use their list when there was a Court injunction saying otherwise. Thank God the right thing has been done

The issue of invalidating PDP Presidential ticket can't come up now since they never went to court to stop the convention but that their list be recognised and allowed to vote because they desperately wanted to get Gov Wike elected PDP Presidential candidate. The party obeyed the court order and now a higher court set aside that order. In the eyes of the law, it's assumed that Dan Orbih delegates never voted. In law, their votes represent the votes of OBASEKI delegates. Am not a lawyer but experience I have gathered in my regular and consist follow - up on political cases has given me enough common sense to interpret political cases. I may be right or wrong in my views.

Let us go back to Amechi vs Celestine Omehia where the Court held that the votes that brought the emergence of Hon Celestine as Rivers State Governor belong to Amechi and not Celestine and Amechi was declared winner few months after Hon Celestine was sworn - in. Remember Amechi won the PDP Governorship primary and OBJ said the ticket has k - leg and the ticket was given to Hon Celestine Omeiha, Amechi cousin. The Supreme Court never said the votes became void and therefore declared the 2nd runner in the general election winner. 

As for the implication of the Appeal court judgement in the election and candidacy of the party flagbearer, Atiku Abubakar there is no cause for alarm. One, any of Atiku co - aspirants can only challenge his election within 14 days after his emergence. They have lost that opportunity provided by law. Beside this, it will be exercise in futility if they go to court on the basis of invalidating Atiku election. The law is very clear on that. It was court and not party that caused the action of their participation in the convention through a midnight injunction and that order was obeyed by the party. Now a higher Court of competent jurisdiction has set aside that judgement. The legal implication of that is that their voting has no negative consequential effect on the election since in the eyes of the law the authentic list as proclaimed by the Court is assumed to have been used and not Dan Orbih delegates as seen in Amechi vs Omeiha 2007. 

Amechi inherited the votes because it was already in Court to regain his mandate before the election. Again, in the eyes of the law, Amechi was in the ballot and not Celestine Omehia. The same goes to those that voted instead of the rightful delegates from Edo.

 ```CASE CLOSE``` 

Jerome Eramho

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  1. Since you are not a lawyer by profession, your misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the Appeal Court's disposition on this matter is excused.