Court dismisses suit seeking to unseat Senators Ubah, Oduah, others

A Federal High Court in Abuja has held that the suit seeking to remove Senators Andy Ubah, Stella Oduah and others from Anambra as national and state assembly members lacked of merit.

In his judgment, the judge, Justice Adeniyi Ademola, dismissed the suit instituted by Senators Annie Okonkwo, Chris Ubah and 42 others.

Ademola said the claim by the plaintiffs that they were the rightfully nominated candidates of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) could not stand in the face of the law.

Ademola said this was because the plaintiffs emerged from an illegal nomination process, having been nominated unlawfully by the state executive of the PDP.

He held that the power to conduct primary election, nominate candidates and submit names of candidates to INEC was vested on the National Executive Committee (NEC) of a party.

Ademola said that the plaintiffs, having emerged from a primary election conducted by the state executive of the PDP, submitted themselves to an act of illegality.

As such, he added that they could not at this point seek legal backing for such a nomination.

“It is settled law that the state executive committee organ of a political party lacks power to nominate candidates for elections.

“It is only the primary election conducted by the NEC organ of a party that is valid to be submitted to INEC for the purpose of election and no other arm.

“The claims of the plaintiffs to the effect that they are the validly nominated candidates of the PDP for the 2015 National and state assembly elections cannot stand in the face of the law.

“This is because the Anambra PDP executive has no legal rights to conduct primary elections to nominate candidates,’’ he held.

According to him, in the instant case, it is clear that the state executive appears not to know their limits with its flagrant abuse of power and usurpation of the functions of NEC.

Ademola added that political parties should educate their state executive on the limit of their powers so as to stop them from committing acts of illegality.

He held that the claim of the plaintiffs that their names had been published by INEC before the NEC submitted the names of the defendants later to INEC had no legal consequences.

This, he said, was because they failed to show the legitimacy of their candidacy by not showing their nomination forms.

Okonkwo, Ubah and the others had approached the court to complain that their names having been published on INEC website as candidates of PDP could not be removed without a court order.

They asked the court for an order of mandatory injunction directing INEC to restore their names as candidates sponsored by PDP for the 2015 elections.

They also applied for an order of injunction restraining INEC from accepting or publishing any other names as the sponsored candidates of the PDP in their place without an order of a competent court.

Mr Abel Ozioko, counsel to the plaintiffs, in his reaction, said the court went out of its way to determine issues that were not canvassed by the plaintiffs in arriving at its decision.

Ozioko said that the veracity of the judgment would be tested in the Court of Appeal upon the instruction of his clients.

Mr Emeka Etiaba (SAN), a member of the defence team, however, noted that the judgment had shown that what was a nullity was nullity.

According to him, if the plaintiffs chose to go on appeal, they are only trying to give themselves some comfort.