Confusion over Supreme Court verdict on Oduah, Uba, others

Stella Oduah
Stella Oduah

There was confusion on Friday morning over reports of the sack of Andy Uba and Stella Oduah as senators representing different constituencies in Anambra State.

The report, which was widely circulated, gave rise to the belief that all the lawmakers elected to represent Anambra in the 8th assembly, had lost their seats, as the appeal court had annulled the election of Uche Ekwunife, also a PDP lawmaker, in December.

But Tochukwu Nweke, one of the lawyers representing Oduah, Uba and seven members of the House of Representatives from Anambra, has said the judgment which the apex court delivered on Friday had nothing to do with the status of the lawmakers but on the chairmanship position of PDP in the state.

“In summary, the judgment that was given today is all about the chairmanship of PDP in Anambra state, and nothing more,” he told The Cable. “It has nothing to do with the candidates. The people at the national assembly are still there. The judgment does not affect them in any manner.

“The supreme court made it clear in the judgment that they were not dealing with the issue of nomination of candidates, but only the issue of chairmanship.”

Meanwhile, the legal team of the lawmakers has written a letter to the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), impressing on him the facts of the judgment.

Below are snippets from the letter entitled: ‘The status of PDP senators and members of the house of representatives’:

Our clients were duly nominated by the National Executive of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the 2015 General Election and they contested the Election and were duly returned as elected. They were subsequently issued with their respective Certificates of Return and have since been performing the duties for which they were elected by their respective constituents before the election and during the nomination process, the National Executive duly forwarded our clients’ names which the Commission duly received.

Thereafter owing to some shenanigans by some staff of the Commission whom our clients believed were working for a self-styled State Executive Committee which were determined against the serene and settled position of the law to sponsor candidates for the Peoples Democratic party (PDP), our clients’ names were relegated.

This created a situation whereby the legal department of the Commission commenced playing a “musical chair” with list of candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) when they were fully aware that the only authority that is competent to forward names of candidates is the National Executive Committee by virtue of correspondence signed by its National Chairman and Secretary.

In two (2) remarkable pronouncements, the Supreme Court of Nigeria eloquently held that no list other than that forwarded by the National Executive of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) shall be countenanced by the Commission. It is also on record that our Client appealed the decision of the Federal High Court to the Court of Appeal which set aside the decision.

Upon an appeal to the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court on 29th January, 2016 allowed the appeal. This appeal has now excited some attention and has been subjected to blatant and crude misinterpretations which have necessitated this correspondence.

This correspondence is aimed at setting the record straight so that your good self will not again be misled by your legal department into unjustifiably occasioning an unnecessary confusion in the process.The judgment under reference is SC. 37 /2015: CHIEF EJIKE OGUEBEGO & ANOR v. PEOPLES DEMOCRATIC PARTY & ORS.

May I draw your attention to the most pertinent segment of the Judgment for the purpose of the status of the legislators sponsored by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at pages 46, 47 and 48 of the Judgment where their lordships of the Supreme Court held as follows:- The Court below, however, veered from the course set by the trial court and took the matter to another level which clearly failed to take into consideration the main issue before the trial court.

On page 1291 of Volume 3 of the record of appeal the Court of Appeal held as follows:- It is established beyond peradventure that it is the National Executive Committee of the appellant which has the power to conduct a valid primary for the nomination or selection of candidates for a general election.

Please Note the Following : The Supreme Court did not order the withdrawal of the Certificates of Return issued by the Commission. They did not hold that the faction of the PDP had the right to sponsor candidates for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). They did not equally authorize the Commission to substitute our clients with the individuals whose names were on the list improperly allowed by the Commission in obvious disregard of the series of judgments of the Supreme Court of Nigeria to the effect that it is only the National Executive of the party that has the vires to sponsor candidates.

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