By Ifeanyi OttahAhead of the April 11, governorship election, the Political battle between Senator Ayogu Eze and Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi was determined on Monday 2nd March 2015 by a Federal High Court Abuja. Hundreds of supporters of Ugwuanyi took to streets in Abuja following the Court Judgment that lasted for about two hours which upheld the candidacy of Ugwuanyi as the governorship candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Enugu State.
Justice Evoh Chukwu had earlier adjourned the case for judgment on a day the two PDP gubernatorial aspirants is the state, Hon. Ugwuanyi and Senator Eze, insisted that they were the duly elected candidates to fly the governorship flag of the Party.
Both of them told the court that they emerged from parallel primary elections they said were monitored by officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Whereas Ayogu Eze argued through his lawyer, Mr. Yusuf Ali, SAN.
It will be recalled that though it was Ayogu Eze that lodged the substantive suit before the court, Ugwuanyi who is currently enjoying the support of the national leadership of the PDP, subsequently applied and was joined as an interested party in the matter.
Other defendants in the suit by Ayogu Eze are the PDP, its National Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu and INEC.
Meanwhile all the defendants urged the court to dismiss the suit for want of merit. Arguing through its lawyer Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, PDP and its chairman challenged the jurisdiction of the court entertain the suit which they said was within the purview of a domestic affair of a political party.
The 1st and 2nd defendants told the court that the plaintiff emerged through a Kangaroo primary election which they said was not certified by the National Working Committee, NWC, of the Party.
Ikpeazu argued that under section 87 of the Electoral Act, only primary election sanctioned by the NWC of the party could be deemed valid.
It could be recalled that on December 8, 2014, the PDP held governorship primaries in all the states of the federation where governorship elections were expected to hold on April 11, 2015. Although the exercise was expected to produce one flag bearer for the party in each state, two candidates in Enugu State, instead of one. While Senator Eze emerged winner of the primaries held by his delegates at Filbon Hotel New Heaven, Enugu, another primaries conducted by PDP electoral panel from Abuja at the officially designated venue, Nnamdi Azikiwe stadium Enugu, produced Ugwuanyi as the candidate of the party.
In his considered Judgment, Justice Evo upheld the submissions of the defence counsel. Onyechi Ikapazu SAN, and ruled that the judgment of Justice Ademola did not embody a mandatory order to use the delegate list from the adhoc delegate election, noting that there was no breach of Section 87 (4) (b) of the Electoral Act. He added that there was nothing before the court to show that any list was sanctioned.
Meanwhile, Ugwuanyi’s travails may not have been over as there are indications that the crisis rocking the Enugu State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which seemingly appears to have ended has reared its ugly head again.
The chairmanship tussle in PDP Enugu State assumed another dimension recently as Barrister Raymond Nnaji, who claims to be the factional chairman in the state has filed a motion in court seeking to stop the party from presenting governorship candidate, Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and other candidates, who emerged from the primaries, from contesting in the forthcoming elections.
The motion on Notice brought pursuant to order 26 56(1) of the Federal High Court Civic Procedure Rules 2009, is expected to be moved before the presiding judge, justice D.V. Agishi of Federal High Court Enugu.
Nnaji, who was also a former national auditor of the Party, is asking the court to suspend the judgment, which it had reserved in a similar civil suit in connection with the authenticity of who was the actual chairman of PDP in Enugu State on that date, to hear the present application.
The defendants are the independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) the Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, for Enugu State and the National Chairman, PDP.
Nnaji, had in an earlier suit claimed that “in 2008 I was elected as the chairman of PDP Enugu State and other members of the executive committee of the party at the designated venue, Macdevous Hotel, Enugu.”
“That unfortunately when the then national chairman of the PDP, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, took over leadership of the party from Col. Ahmadu Ali (rtd) as the chairman, the decided not to respect the decision of the party before his assumption of office, hence suit FHC/EN/CS/83/2008 against him and other.
Surprisingly, one Engr. Vita Abba, who equally claimed elected as chairman of the Party in Enugu State at a venue designated him, himself and his collaborators, was joined as the 3rd defendant in that suit had to file a preliminary objection challenging the Jurisdiction of the court.”
Stating that Abba was not the rightful chairman of the party in the state then, Nnaji told Amen Super News that he conceded the position to him at the instance of the Enugu State Governor, Sullivan Chime, adding that the agreement they (Chime and Nnaji) had that led to it had not been met till date.
He said: “I am now questioning his legitimacy as the chairman because he is not doing what he supposed to do. The party is supreme and even the governor is supposed to respect the tenets of the party but vita is a rubber stamp and not doing anything. The suit is still alive and I am going to reopen it to tell him that he is not the legitimate Chairman of the Party; he is not helping matters and has become part and parcel of the problem. Let the right person for the position go in.”
Meanwhile the Enugu State PDP led by the former chairman, Chief Vita Abba, then, had dismissed as untrue and misleading the statement made by Ray Nnaji, that he conceded his position as state chairman to Vita Abba on certain conditions which were not fulfilled by Governor Chime.
In his reaction, the state chapter of the Party, who spoke through its publicity Secretary, Dr. Okey Eze, said the comment published in some National Dailies was aimed at misleading the public and “paint the leadership of the Party in a bad light as a means of registering his alleged grievances.”
The Party said that there was no crisis in the state chapter as it had established a new order of peace and stability in the state.
The party said, “In the said publications, Nnaji among other false and baseless issues alleged that he conceded his position as chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Enugu State in 2008 to Engr. Vita Abba “on certain conditions.”
“The Party therefore wishes to state categorically that the allegation made by the former National Auditor of the Party are false, unfounded, baseless, laughable and smack of a ground design by those who smack of a ground design by those who are uncomfortable with the steady progress being made by the party and its Government in Enugu State.
“It is therefore spurious for Nnaji to allege that he emerged the chairman of the party after its state congress in 2008 and conceded his position to Engr. Abba, when in the first instance he (Nnaji) was never elected as the chairman of the Party n the Party’s State congress organized in 2008. What is even more laughable is the fact that the tenure of the state Chairmanship position which he fruitlessly canvassed in court in 2008 and which he is now threatening to reopen in court has long expired as at February 27, 2012, consequent upon which a fresh state congress was organized in March 17, 2012 and elected new set of state Executive of the Party under the leadership of Engr. Vita Abba…”
However, PDP is not new to leadership crisis especially when a general election is about to take place.
It could be recalled that Abba’s resignation in the thick of preparations to the 2015 general elections and the subsequent appointment of his ally, chief Ikeja Asogwa as the new chairman had thrown PDP in Enugu State into serious crisis which if not for the intervention of the National working committee of the Party (NWC) would have marred the last party primaries in the state. The state Executive (SEC) of the party presided over by Governor Chime approved the appointment of Asogwa as the new chairman following the sudden resignation of Abba.
Until his appointment Asogwa was the managing Director of Enugu State Housing Corporation.
Besides, the SEC meeting further adopted Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi as the party’s consensus candidate. But the Deputy chairman, Elder David Aja, who was at the meeting stoutly rejected the appointment of the new chairman, insisting that he (Ajah) remained the authentic acting chairman of the party in line with provisions of section 45 of the PDP constitution.
Aja who also faulted the process that produced the new chairman, said that he was the one duly empowered to convene the SEC meeting in the event of the resignation of the chairman and not the secretary. “As far as I am concerned, I remain of the party in the state until a substantive chairman is elected.”
Joining issues with Ajah Enugu PDP berated the Deputy Chairman for claiming that he is the authentic chairman of the party in the state. The crisis in the party degenerated into two factions; while Asogwa’s faction was loyal to Governor Chime, Ajah’s faction was loyal to the Deputy senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu.
The crisis between the two factions ended after Governor Chime and senator Ekweremadu had met with President Goodluck Jonathan. It was gathered that among the top Enugu stakeholders that featured in the closed door meeting included the former senate president, Ken Nnamani, Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo and Chief Allison Madueke, the husband of the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani.
After reviewing the main issues in the crisis, the president was said to have informed the Enugu stakeholders of the need to resolve their differences in the interest of the party and the state.
At the said meeting the duo of Chime and Ekweremadu agreed to work together with each reportedly resolving to make sacrifices in the interest of the state.
However, Analysts are of the view that Nnaji, a close ally of former Governor Chimaroke Nnamani, is seeking the court to stop the party form presenting Ugwuanyi and other candidates who emerged from the primaries from contesting in the forthcoming elections simply as a way of bargaining to see whether the incoming government of Ugwuanyi would compensate him for all the unfulfilled promises allegedly made to him by Governor Chime.
According to them, since the position of the state chairman of the party would automatically be zoned to Enugu East- Senatorial zone where Nnaji hails from as soon as the party’s governorship candidate Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi emerges after April 11, election, Nnaji may be working to see if he can be made the next PDP chairman in Enugu State.
To determine how far his prayers can go only time will tell.