Federal High Court sitting in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State capital, has set aside the judgement of Justice Binta Nyako of the Abuja division of the Court which nullified the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) primaries of 28th and 29th May 2022 in Ebonyi, that produced Dr Ifeanyi Chukwuma Odii and other candidates of the party.
Justice Nyako had on December 8, 2022, nullified the primaries and directed the party to conduct a fresh one within 14 days.
Nyako’s judgement followed a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1319/2021 by Mr Okoroafor Tochukwu Okorie against the PDP and INEC.
The Court agreed with the Counsel to the PDP that the Plaintiff, Mr Okorie, that the 28th and 29th PDP primaries that produced Chief Ifeanyi Chukwuma Odii and other PDP candidates were conducted in flagrant disobedience of the order of the Court of Appeal, staying the execution of the judgement of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, which had declared Joseph Silas Onu as the Ebonyi State Chairman of the Party.
Not satisfied with Justice Nyako’s judgement, the PDP had filed a motion to set aside the judgement on the ground that it was obtained by fraud.
The matter with Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/1696/2022 was subsequently transferred by Chief Justice of the Federal High Court to the Abakaliki division of the court following Justice Nyako’s recusal from the matter, over allegation of being biased.
Delivering judgement on the matter on Wednesday, Justice Fatun Rima of the Abakaliki division of the Court, agreed with the Counsel to the PDP, Barrister Michael Inya Igbo, that the judgement by an Abuja division of the Court nullifying the 28th and 29th PDP primaries in Ebonyi State was obtained by trick by the Plaintiff, Mr Okorie, and consequently set it aside.
The Court also agreed with the PDP Counsel that if Justice Nyako was made to be aware of the facts and circumstances of the matter, he wouldn’t had given the judgement in the first place.
The Court further agreed with Barrister Inya Igbo that once a Supreme Court has made a pronouncement on an issue, you cannot by any trick bring back the matter again to a lower court for adjudication.
The PDP Counsel said: “The PDP had filed a motion to set aside the judgement of Justice Binta Nyako on the ground that it was obtained by fraud. Yesterday, we took argument and the Court in its Wisdom agreed with us that once a Supreme Court has made a pronouncement on an issue, you cannot by any trick bring back the matter again to a lower court for adjudication.
“The Court also agreed with us that if Justice Nyako was made to be aware of the facts and circumstances of the matter, he wouldn’t had given judgement in the first place. So, that’s basis upon which that judgement was set aside today.
On why the matter was transferred to Abakaliki division of the Court from Abuja Federal High Court, Mr Inya Igbo said: “The Plaintiff, Mr Tochukwu Okorie, accused Justice Nyako of being bias. Sequel to this, she now recused herself from the matter and sent the file back to Chief Justice of the Federal High Court for reassignment.
“The CJ probably would have looked into the matter and saw that the issues leading to the matter emanated from Ebonyi State and sent back to Court here in Ebonyi to determine. You know there is a directive that any pre-election matter should be commenced and handled in the State where those issues arose. This is to forestall a situation where courts of different jurisdictions in the country will be giving conflicting judgements on the same subject matter.
“The implication of this judgement is that the primaries conducted by the PDP in Ebonyi on the 28th and 29th of May, 2022, are valid and subsisting. And that Chief Ifeanyi Chukwuma Odii and other candidates who emerged from that primaries are the valid candidates of the PDP in the 2023 general elections.”
The PDP Counsel said he had no doubt that with the latest judgement, the Independent National Electoral Commission, would restore the names of the candidates of the PDP in Ebonyi State for the general elections.
“I expect the INEC to obey the judgement of the Court and restore the names of the PDP candidates for the general elections. The court today has affirmed that and the highest Court in the land has also affirmed that.”
Recall that the INEC removed the names of the National Assembly candidates of the PDP in the amendment list it released on January 30, 2022, in its portal.
Reacting to the judgement, the State PDP Legal Adviser, Barrister Mudi Erhenede, said the history of the case is such that no Court in the land would have allowed that judgement to stand.
“As the Legal Adviser of the PDP, I want to say that the history of the case is such that no Court in the land would have allowed that judgement to stand. If this case had originated from Abakaliki where the whole problem started, there is no way the Judge wouldn’t have known that this dispute has reached the Apex Court, which is the wisdom behind today’s judgement, that all pre-election matter must commence in the state where the dispute arose.”
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