Court strikes out suit challenging Oduah, Ubah candidacies

Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court Abuja has struck out the suit instituted against senators Stella Oduah and others over the legitimacy of their candidacies in the 2015 National Assembly elections in the State.

The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), have asked the Federal Court in Abuja to dismiss a legal action challenging the validity of the primary election of PDP that produced Senators Andy Ubah, Stella Oduah and others as candidates for the 2015 National Assembly elections.

The electoral body and PDP claimed that the legal action instituted by Senator Annie Okonkwo and 43 others is a gross abuse of the court on the grounds that the issues raised by the plaintiffs had already been resolved by the Supreme Court.

Okonkwo and 43 others had through their lawyers; Chief Asam Asam SAN dragged INEC, Ubah, Oduah and 16 others who are lawmakers in the National and Anambra State House of Assembly before the Federal High Court praying the court to invalidate the nomination of the defendants.
The plaintiffs also applied for an order of the court restraining INEC from accepting the nomination of Ubah and his colleagues in the national and state assemblies on the ground that they were not nominated by the state executive committee of PDP led by Mr. Ejike Oguebegu.

The plaintiffs claimed that since Oguebegu led state PDP committee conducted primary election, nominated them and their names published by INEC, it was wrong in law for their names to be withdrawn from INEC’s list.

They demanded in their suit that any purported removal of their names from the INEC list violated provisions of the law and should be set aside while their names should be restored.

However, in the adoption of final addresses on Wednesday before Justice Adeniyi Ademola, INEC in its opposition to the suit claimed that the case of Okonkwo and other plaintiffs had been overtaken by a Supreme Court judgment delivered on January 29, 2016 by Justice John Iyang –Okoro.

Counsel to INEC Dr. Onyeachi Ikpeazu (SAN) while adopting the final address of the electoral body, told justice Ademola that the case of the plaintiffs constituted a gross abuse of court process since the issue in contention had already been resolved by the highest court in the land.

INEC claimed that in the judgment of the Supreme Court, Justice Okoro made it clear that the power to conduct primary election for nomination of candidates for national assembly elections is vested in the national executive committee of a political party and not in the state executive of any party.

In the instant case, INEC claimed that the fact that the national executive committee of the PDP conducted the primary election for nomination of national assembly members from Anambra state was not in dispute, adding that it was wrong of the plaintiffs to be claiming to be PDP nominees for the 2015 national assembly election because their primary elections was unlawfully, illegally and unconstitutionally conducted by Anambra State chapter of PDP under Ejike Oguebegu.
The counsel further submitted that the plaintiffs were just asking the Federal High Court to have a head-on collision with the Supreme Court which he said will not be in the best interest of the judiciary and litigants.

He therefore urged Justice Ademola to decline the invitation of the plaintiffs to dabble into an issue that had already been resolved by the apex court by dismissing the suit for lacking merit.
Also in its final argument the Peoples Democratic Party National Secretariat represented by Emeka Etiaba SAN canvassed for the dismissal of the suit on the ground that the right organ of the party vested with power conducted the primary election that produced the nomination of the national law makers from Anambra State for the 2015 election.

PDP also submitted that the purported claim of the plaintiffs as the right candidates to be in the national assembly cannot stand in law because the purported primary election conducted by the Obuebegu led state executive committee was not known to any law.
Counsel for senators Andy Uba, Stella Oduah and other defendants in the suit adopted the position of INEC and PDP and urged the judge to dismiss the suit.

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