By Uchem Obi
SO much has recently been said about the Supreme Court judgment of January 29, 2016, which upheld the order of a Federal High Court recognizing the Ejike Oguebego-led Executive of the Peoples Democratic Party in Anambra State, This unambiguous judgment has been advertently misinterpreted by mischievous people. A grandiose lie was insensitively disseminated in the social media as breaking news – the Supreme Court sacks Andy Uba and other Anambra PDP NASS members.
The use of Andy Uba’s name in the false story is akin to Nollywood’s marketing strategy of using a popular face to market a poor movie. Even when the Senator and his colleagues had since refuted the story by themselves and through their lawyers, a certain clique, obviously constituted of failed politicians, has continued to molest and confuse the intelligence of people with the temerity of their fabrications.
This unnecessary controversy, which should never have been, has indeed activated many commentators, who have proffered opinions, based on their own understanding, judgment or expediency. Today, I am joining the mix because this is one discussion which Nigerians should not be having at this time because it is hollow, baseless and full of noise but without any shred of substance. However, I will proceed, without legal jingoism, by looking into what the apex court said: to Andy Uba and his colleagues; to Ejike Oguebego and his Executive; and to Chief Chris Uba and his group.
Did the Supreme Court really say anything to Sen. Andy Uba and other Anambra PDP members of the NASS? To me, it is a yes and no situation. No, because the apex court could not have said anything to them. They had no matter before the court on that day and the matter for ruling on that day did not concern them, as they neither joined nor were joined in the suit at anytime. In fact, their names were not mentioned directly or by reference in the 53–page judgment.
In the same breath, I will say that it is also a yes situation because technically, the court said a whole lot to them. Every word uttered by John Inyang Okoro, JSC, consolidated their positions as validly nominated and elected members of the NASS. The Court judgment put their nomination beyond further legal contests. Because of that judgment, every other legal weapon fashioned against their nominations would no longer prosper. This is the crux of what the apex court technically said to Sen. Uba and his Anambra PDP colleagues in the NASS.
To Ejike Oguebego, the Court said two basic things. The first was a pat on the back, that the Court of Appeal was wrong in not upholding the decision of the Federal High Court presided over by Justice E.S.Chukwu which recognized his executive as the authentic leadership of PDP in Anambra State. The second was that the apex court told him that his executive has no power to conduct National Assembly primaries and therefore, there was no controversy as to which organ of the PDP has power to conduct NASS primaries as the court has settled the controversy a long time ago. I shall soon get to this.
Oguebego received the pat on his back when the court held, that the real issue before the Court of Appeal was “whether the Peoples Democratic Party can ignore the subsisting order of court recognizing the Oguebego Executive and set up a caretaker committee for Anambra PDP in brazen contempt of the court” The Court held that other issues thrown up in the matter “were just to garnish the issue” and therefore, it was wrong for the Court of Appeal to abandon the real issue and “ be persuaded to dwell on the issue of which organ of PDP has power to conduct primary election”.. According to the apex court. “This is not the issue in this case”. The summary of the Court’s judgment was that it was wrong for the PDP to set up a caretaker committee for Anambra PDP in the pendency of an un-vacated order of court recognizing the Oguebego Executive.
This is the genesis of the controversial fabrication against Anambra PDP NASS members. The Oguebego faction of the PDP has Chief Chris Uba as its leader and it is this faction that orchestrated the false sacking of Anambra PDP members in the National Assembly and their illusionary replacement by candidates who emerged from the primaries conducted by the Oguebego executive. This will take us back to the apex Court’s decisions, that there was no controversy as to the organ of the PDP which has powers to conduct National Assembly primaries.
It is my considered opinion that the Supreme Court was indirectly talking to Chief Chris Uba and many others who wrongfully subjected their National Assembly ambitions to primaries unlawfully conducted by the state executive of PDP. This position was made abundantly clear by the Supreme Court in the decided case of Odedo V Ejike Oguebego & others (2015) 13 NWLR (PT. 1476) 222 at 266 – 267. In this case the Court had held: “Suffice it to say it is the National Executive of the PDP that is imbued with the responsibility for the conduct of the party’s National Assembly Primaries. Any purported attempt to conduct such primary by the state chapter of the PDP cannot be validly characterized as competent. The act is totally illegal and will confer no right as it is a nullity and also consisting an abuse of court process”…………………..
It does appear without ambiguity that the National Assembly primaries purportedly conducted by the Oguebego Executive was illegal, null and void and did not and could not confer any right to Chief Chris Uba and others who purportedly emerged from it. It follows also without ambiguity, that Sen. Andy Uba and other Anambra PDP members in the NASS, who emerged from primaries conducted by the NEC of the PDP, were the legally and lawfully nominated candidates of the party in the March 28, 2015, National Assembly elections. This is the position of the law until the Supreme Court reverses itself, which is not very often. However, ruling in favour of the Oguebego-led executive, the Court reiterated and consolidated this position when it held: “This court had an occasion to consider the proprietary of the Anambra State Executive Committee of the PDP conducting primary election for the nomination of National Assembly candidates to fly the flag of the PDP in an election. This was the case of Emeka v Okadigbo……. In that case, it was held that the Anambra Executive Committee of the PDP has no right whatsoever to conduct National Assembly primaries.”
The conclusion of the whole matter, therefore, is that the Supreme Court did not sack Anambra PDP members in the NASS. Secondly, Chris Uba and Others were not candidates in the March 28, 2015 National Assembly elections because they participated in an illegal primary election conducted by the Oguebego-led executive.
.Obi writes from Abuja
By Uchem Obi