In Enugu 2023: Opposition Parties Rush To Court To Push Out Enugu PDP

By Ogbuagu Anikwe

Opposition parties rush to court to join Gov Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s opponent in a bid to shove Enugu PDP candidates aside. In separate pleas, Enugu APC and Labour applied to join the case that threatens the fortunes of PDP candidates.

African Democratic Party (ADC) Senatorial Candidate, Chika Emmanuel Idoko, instituted the case at the Enugu Federal High Court. He asked the court to disqualify all 36 PDP candidates fight for elective positions from Governorship to House of Assembly.

In court papers, Mr. Idoko claims the ruling PDP breached Section 82 of the Electoral Act in nominating its candidates. PDP wrote INEC to announce a date for conduct of party primaries, he said. However, the party failed to observe a mandatory wait period of 21 days before holding them.

PDP’s letter to INEC was delivered on 6 May 2022, he said. The party allegedly conducted primaries between 22 and 24 May, three days short of the mandatory 21 days. He therefore wants the court to cancel the primaries and further bar PDP from participation in the 2023 elections.

Looking At Precedent

Idoko’s lawyers rely on precedent – a similar case also decided against the PDP in Zamfara State last month. Another federal high court sitting in Gusau, Zamfara State, voided the State PDP governorship primary for a similar infraction.

Federal High Court Judge, Aminu Bappa, subsequently banned Zamfara PDP from fielding a governorship candidate for the 2023 election. This is because PDP did not follow the legal process set out in Section 82 of the Electoral Act.

Consequently, Enugu opposition, sensing that the State PDP appears to be in a vulnerable position, moved in for the kill. Both APC and Labour expect to benefit from the fall of the formidable Enugu PDP.

However, Labour is also grappling with its internal challenge from another Abuja court intervention. The party appealed last month’s judgment that voided its governorship primary and ordered a new one within 14 days.

A Flurry Of Legal Exertions

When the case came up for hearing this Monday, 12 December, ADC national Chairman Ralph Nwosu complained that the party leadership was not aware of the matter. The court however rejected his plea to strike out the case.

APC’s deputy governorship candidate, Chief George Ogara, a lawyer, applied on behalf of his party to be join the case. The court will likely rule on the application on 20 December, the next adjourned. Enugu PDP remains a formidable foe that has proved difficult to dislodge by the opposition since the dawn of the Fourth Republic in 1999.

A wholesale disbanding of its 36 candidates will therefore become a major electoral windfall for opposition parties as they rush to court. It will also represent massive victory for a little-known candidate taking on political giants in the battle for Enugu North Senate District.

The Northern giants making a bid for the seat include Gov Ugwuanyi (PDP) and Chief Okey Ezea (Labour). There is also Chief Casmir Ugwu, recently retired dean of Permanent Secretaries in Enugu State.

‘Why I’m Fighting PDP’

Idoko, the youth candidate, is aiming for a low shot that will take down Ugwuanyi who is the frontrunner. He is also openly angsting against the ruling party.

“I will be contented for being listed in the annals of history as one of the proponents and facilitators of the New Enugu State, devoid of the PDP Cabals,” he said on his Facebook page today. INEC with the PDP and its 36 Enugu party candidates for 2023 as parties are the defendants in the suit.

“Since I instituted this action, the Almighty God has helped me to surmount all temptations, threats, and intimidations. I hope that at the end the truth will prevail, and a totally new leave of life will grow in Enugu State.”

He accused “conscienceless persons” making severe attempts to dent his image after failing to sway him with bribery and intimidation.

“It is no longer news that while I rejected Millions of Naira bribe to withdraw this Suit, some persons fell prey to the offer. They are re-adjusting and re-aligning to commence blackmail against me and (instigate) unnecessary bickering around our party faithful.

“It is no longer news also, that attempt made by the National leadership of my Party, to withdraw my personal Suit at Federal High Court Enugu, for reasons best known to them, failed.

He alleged that the latest ploy is to use persons in the party headquarters to sack him from the party and disown him as a candidate.

“All these machinations are to whittle down my image, generate noise in the suit before the law court, and see how white can be turned to black.” He however vowed that “their intimidation and machinations will not yield fruit.” The case was adjourned to December 20, 2022, for further hearing.

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