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Court annuls Edo PDP governorship primary election

The judge observed that INEC's counsel merely indicated that the commission would accept the court's ruling.

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A Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday nullified the People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) governorship primary election in Edo State, which produced Mr. Asue Ighodalo as the party’s candidate for the upcoming Edo State governorship poll.

In his judgment, Justice Inyang Ekwo ruled that the primary election, held on February 22, violated the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022, the party’s constitution, and the guidelines governing the conduct of the primary.

Justice Ekwo, who said that Exhibit PDP 1 tendered by the party was bereft of evidence, held that the plaintiffs, through the exhibits tendered, were able to establish their case against the defendants.

The judge stated that based on the evidence presented by the PDP, it was clear that the returning officers responsible for preparing the result sheets simply gathered in a location to fabricate the election outcome.

Furthermore, the judge noted that the exclusion of 381 delegates, including the plaintiffs, from the voting process was a clear violation of the legal requirements and provisions.

Justice Ekwo noted that while the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the first defendant, had filed a memorandum of appearance in the case, it failed to submit any substantial arguments or evidence, effectively abandoning its defence.

The judge observed that INEC’s counsel merely indicated that the commission would accept the court’s ruling.

He said: “I found that the case of the plaintiffs succeeds on merit.”

Three disgruntled ad-hoc delegates, representing the interests of 378 others, filed a lawsuit against the INEC, the PDP, its National Secretary, and the Vice Chairman (South-South), listed as the first through fourth defendants in the legal action, according to a report.

The plaintiffs sought two orders in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/165/2024, dated February 7 but filed on February 8.

The court instructed the defendants and their lawyers to justify the denial of the plaintiffs’ requests in their initial filing.

This was specifically about the plans of the second, third, and fourth defendants to keep the plaintiffs and 378 other delegates (whose names and election results are shown in exhibits BID 8A to 8L) from taking part in the Edo State primaries on February 22.

The plaintiffs, comprising Hon. Kelvin Mohammed, Mr. Gabriel Okoduwa, and Mr. Ederaho Osagie, representing a larger group from 12 local government areas and 127 wards, argued that granting their requests would be in the best interest of justice.

According to reports, the 381 delegates in question support Philip Shaibu, the former deputy governor who lost his job due to impeachment proceedings.

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