Top shots of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Abuja and Anambra State are manipulating the judiciary in order to achieve their imposition of a disgraced former Aviation Minister Stella Oduah as one of the party’s senatorial candidates in Anambra.
Aggrieved members of the party named Pius Anyim, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, as the key collaborator in Ms. Oduah’s game to be foisted as a senatorial candidate. “Senator Anyim and Chief Mrs. Oduah have been working together to undermine internal democracy in Anambra PDP,” one of several sources in the state alleged. “They appointed an illegal caretaker committee led by Major General Aliyu Karma (ret.), as chairman, and Alhaji Dalhatu Akibu, as secretary, to oversee, run the affairs and conduct elections for the PDP, Anambra State chapter,” the source added.
Several party members said the imposition of the Karma-led committee flouted two court judgments, an interim order issued in October 2014 by Justice E. S. Chukwu of the Federal High Court Abuja, and an earlier interlocutory Injunction by Justice H. A. Nganjiwa of the Federal High Court. In the latter verdict, Justice Nganjiwa ordered both the PDP and INEC to recognize and deal with Ejike Oguebego as the party’s state chairman in all election matters in Anambra State pending the determination of the substantive lawsuit.
On November 27, Justice Chukwu dismissed Ken Emeakayi’s claim to the state chairmanship of state, and ruled that “the purported caretaker committee or ad-hoc committee set up by the [PDP]” was “illegal, null and void.”
A longstanding member of the PDP in Anambra told SaharaReporters that some powerful members of the party deliberately ignored and attempted to circumvent the court’s order by imposing another illegal caretaker committee led by the same General Aliyu Karma as chairman, with Alhaji Bature as the new secretary. They said the equally illegal committee was charged with running the affairs of the party in Anambra and conducting illicit elections in order to enthrone Ms. Oduah, their favored candidate.
On December 5, 2014 Justice Chukwu issued another ruling that sought to clarify the issue of the party’s leadership to be entrusted with conducting the election to produce delegates who would vote for nominated candidates. The judge once again declared the caretaker committee as illegal, null and void. He added, “any delegate list or nominated candidates that emanate from the congresses and primaries conducted by the caretaker committee or ad-hoc committee set up by the 1st defendant during the pendency and subsistence of this suit is illegal, invalid, unconstitutional, [an] abuse of court process, null and void and cannot be used for any purpose.”
Justice Chukwu also barred the PDP and its officials from forwarding to the electoral commission “any delegates list or nominated candidates that may emerge from the congresses or primaries conducted by the purported caretaker committee” set up by the PDP. According to the court’s ruling, INEC must only accept the lists produced by the primaries and congresses overseen by Mr. Oguebego’s group.
Party officials loyal to Mr. Oguebego told SaharaReporters that the group conducted INEC-supervised primary elections on December 6 and 7, 2014, resulting in Ms. Oduah’s failure to win the ticket. “The primaries were observed by INEC. The process was transparent. Chief Mrs. Oduah lost.”
In an astonishing move, Ms. Oduah and her cohorts goaded a lawyer, Olusola Oke, their counsel in the judgment given by Justice Chukwu, to file a motion on December 16 at the registry of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). “This was a shameful judicial maneuver that amounted to asking a court to presume an appellate stature in relation to another court of equal standing,” said a lawyer. He added that, rather than refuse the case on grounds of lack of jurisdiction, Justice Husseini Baba Yusuf of the High Court of the FCT brought the judiciary into further ignominy on December 17 when he issued an interim order granting the reliefs sought by the Oduah group. Justice Yusuf also set December 23 as the date to hear the substantive case.
“As a lawyer, Chief Olusola Oke should know that it was odious to move a motion ex-parte before Justice Husseini Baba Yusuf seeking the same reliefs as the ones already determined by the Federal High Court. And it’s worse since he had already filed and served an appellant’s brief in suit No. CA/A/737/14, PDP vs. EJIKE OGUEBEGO & 3 ORS.”
“It was a desperate attempt to make the FCT High Court sit on appeal over the Federal High Court judgment,” said a lawyer who has followed the case. “And the only purpose of this absurdity is that some PDP chieftains are determined to enthrone their favorite candidate, even though the voters had rejected her at the primaries.”
The legal maneuvers took a new twist on December 23 when the motion by Mr. Oke was to be argued. Ms. Oduah’s lawyer failed to show up in court, with another lawyer, Mahmud Magaji, announcing his appearance for the plaintiffs even though no application had been filed for change of counsel as required by court procedures. Lawyers for the Oguebego-led Anambra PDP asked the judge to discharge the interim order.
A legal expert told SaharaReporters that the interim order effectively lapsed on January 6, 2015. However, members of the Oguebego leadership of the PDP in Anambra accuse Mr. Anyim and Ms. Oduah of working behind the scenes to intimidate INEC into putting a lapsed interim order on the same pedestal as a court judgment that upheld Oguebego as the chairman of the PDP in Anambra.
During Ms. Oduah’s tenure as Aviation Minister, an investigation by SaharaReporters had exposed how she had defrauded the Nigerian treasury by prevailing on an agency under her control to purchase two bulletproof BMW cars for her at a total cost of $1.6 million. Our investigations also revealed that there was no evidence that the cars were ever delivered, even though Ms. Oduah caused subordinates at the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to sign that they had taken possession.
SaharaReporters also revealed that Ms. Oduah’s claim that she earned a Masters degree from St. Paul’s College in Lawrencille, Virginia, was a lie. The college where she earned the alleged degree does not award Masters degrees, our investigation showed.
During Ms. Oduah’s tenure as minister, she embarked on numerous renovation projects at a variety of airports. Those projects have since come under scrutiny, even from Nigerian aviation officials who question the amount of the contracts, the shady process that led to the contracts, and financial deals that will leave Nigerians paying too much money for too little value. A source told SaharaReporters that Mr. Anyim’s blind loyalty to Ms. Oduah’s political ambition was because a company belonging to the former Senate president benefited from a contract to renovate the Enugu International Airport.
Ms. Oduah’s PDP critics within Anambra PDP accused her of using her ill-gotten wealth as well as her ties to Mr. Anyim to attempt to steamroll INEC officials, PDP national officers, and the judiciary.
“Why is Chief Mrs. Oduah so desperate to get to the Senate, even though she lost in the primaries?” one of her critics asked. “Is it to be able to cover her financial atrocities in the Ministry of Aviation? What kind of country do we have when a person who lied about her educational attainments is being given support by the Secretary to the Federal Government, Chief Anyim Pius Anyim, to become a senator?”