Justice O.O. Goodluck of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Abuja today adjourned the hearing of the suit brought by an Abuja-based constitutional lawyer, Chukwunweike Maduekwe, against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) seeking nullification of ostensible nominations of party candidates for National Assembly elections. The case was adjourned to April 1, 2015.
Mr. Maduekwe has petitioned Justice Goodluck to restrain INEC from allowing the PDP to present any candidate whatsoever in the National Assembly elections on March 28. The plaintiff accuses the PDP of failing to hold primary elections for its 2015 National Assembly aspirants as prescribed by S. 87 (1), (6) and (9) of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended and the PDP electoral guidelines for primary elections 2014.
When the suit was called for hearing today, counsel to PDP, Paul Omoluabi, informed the court that he had just filed and served a memorandum of appearance and craved the indulgence of the court to grant an adjournment to enable him to file a defence on behalf of the PDP. No lawyer represented INEC at today’s brief hearing.
The much-anticipated legal battle arose from the shady manner in which the PDP selected its slate of candidates for a variety of National Assembly seats. Numerous disaffected PDP aspirants and members in Anambra accused party officials at the national headquarters of imposing senatorial candidates like corrupt former Minister of Aviation Stella Oduah, Uche Ekwunife, a recent defector to the PDP, and incumbent Senator Andy Uba, who were anointed either by First Lady Patience Jonathan or President Goodluck Jonathan.
PDP and other sources revealed that the lawsuit was reverberating outside of the courtroom. The sources said the major beneficiaries of the questionable “primaries” had become jittery since the lawsuit was filed. A top PDP source told SaharaReporters that two of the beneficiaries had been piling pressure as well as issuing threats against Mr. Maduekwe in a scheme to force him to abandon the lawsuit. A relative of the constitutional lawyer confirmed the threats, but said that Mr. Maduekwe was a principled person who is determined to do the right thing by holding his political party and other institutions accountable. Our PDP source added that the Chris Uba-led faction of the PDP has filed a different case at the Supreme Court challenging the fraudulent process through which some anointed PDP aspirants foisted their names on INEC, using the ruse of an appellate court ruling that did not extend to an order to adopt them as candidates.
At today’s court session before Justice Goodluck, Mr. Maduekwe, who appeared for himself, stated that he was ready to go on with the hearing, but that it was up to the court’s discretion to grant an adjournment to enable the defendants to file their defence.
The plaintiff had filed the originating summons on February 18, 2015. The lawsuit is seeking the court’s determination on whether, within the meaning and intention of Section 87(1), (6) and (9) of the Electoral Act 2010, as amended, a political party can validly select/nominate a candidate for any election including election to the position of a senatorial candidate except as provided for and in compliance with the provision of the Electoral Act 2010, as amended. In addition, the summons wants the court to rule that, in keeping with the PDP’s electoral guidelines for primary elections, the party has a legal obligation to conduct party primary elections as a pre-condition before it can validly submit the name of any aspirant as its nominated candidate for Anambra Central Senatorial constituency in Anambra State.
Mr. Maduekwe’s lawsuit also asks the court to determine that, “by its outright failure, neglect and noncompliance with mandatory statutory provisions including its own Electoral Guidelines 2014,” the PDP is “under a contractual obligation to refund all the monies collected from the Plaintiff and other aspirants in Anambra State in ostensible consideration for conducting Party Primary Election for the selection/election of the Party candidate for Anambra State.”
Among the reliefs being sought by Mr. Maduekwe is a declaration that the PDP’s electoral guidelines as well as the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), enjoins “the party to conduct a primary election to elect/nominate its candidates for the 2015 National Assembly election in Anambra State and particularly to nominate/elect its Senatorial candidate for Anambra Central Senatorial Constituency for the forthcoming General Election. He also seeks a declaration that the party’s refusal or neglect to hold valid primaries to elect its National Assembly candidates in Anambra State was “unlawful and constitutes a flagrant violation of the Electoral Act.” In addition, he wants the court to declare that the PDP’s delinquency with regard to organizing valid primaries mean that “the party cannot field National Assembly candidates for the 2015 General Election to be conducted” by INEC. Mr. Maduekwe is asking the court to order the PDP to refund to him the sum of N4.5 million (Four Million, Five Hundred Thousand Naira) he paid for the party’s nomination form to contest the botched primary election for the Anambra Central Senatorial District.
The plaintiff is petitioning the court to restrain INEC “from accepting or acting on any purported list of candidates submitted by the 1st Defendant for the 2015 National Assembly General Elections in Anambra State or allowing any candidate of the 1st Defendant to contest the 2015 National Assembly election previously fixed for 14th February, 2014 but now rescheduled to hold on 28 March 2015.”
Mr. Maduekwe’s originating summons is supported by a 27-paragraph affidavit deposed to by him. The affidavit is reproduced below:
AFFIDAVIT IN SUPPORT OF THE ORIGINATING SUMMONS
I, Chukwunweike (Chike) Maduekwe, Male, Legal Practitioner, Christian Nigerian, Citizen of Umuajana Village Umudioka in Dunukofia Local Government of Anambra State do hereby make oath and state as follows:
1. That I am the Plaintiff in this case.
2. The 1st Defendant is a Political Party registered by the 2nd Defendant and maintains its National Secretariat at Plot 1970 Wadata Plaza, Michael Okpara Street, Wuse Zone, 5 Abuja.
3. The 2nd Defendant is the statutory body charged inter alia with the responsibility of conducting general elections, registering Political Parties and monitoring the activities of the said Political Parties. Its headquarters is at Plot 436 Zambezi Crescent, Maitama District, FCT, Abuja.
4. Following the publication of the Electoral Guidelines for Primary Election 2014 by the 1st Defendant (hereinafter simply referred to as the Electoral Guidelines), I expressed interest in contesting for the Senatorial Seat for Anambra Central Senatorial District. A copy of the 1st Defendant’s Electoral Guidelines is attached and marked as Exhibit A.
5. Consequent on the above, I purchased the Expression of Interest (EOI) and the Nomination (NM) Forms from the 1st Defendant at its head office at Abuja to enable me participate in the PDP Primary Election. I paid the prescribed fees of N4, 500.000.00 (Four Million Five Hundred Thousand Naira). The receipt issued to me by the 1st Defendant for the EOI and NM Forms as well as the Zenith Bank Manager’s Cheque Nos. 07781443 and 07781444 of 30/10/14 with which I made the payment is herein attached and marked Exhibit B.
6. I was screened by the 1st Defendant on the 20th of November 2014 and issued with Clearance Certificate, Serial No. 0000106 to contest the PDP Senatorial Primaries scheduled to take place nationwide on the 7th of December 2014. The PDP Clearance Certificate No: 0000106 is attached and marked Exhibit C.
7. I am aware that contrary to the requirement of the PDP Electoral Guidelines 2014, there was no Delegates Congress on the 1st of November, 2014 in any part of Anambra State, particularly Anambra Central Senatorial District, for the selection of the three-man Ad hoc Delegates for the holding of the Party Primaries as prescribed by the 1st Defendant’s Electoral Guidelines 2014 and Electoral Act 2010 as amended.
8. Very early on the morning of Sunday 7th December 2014, PDP National Assembly aspirants gathered at the office of the Anambra State Commissioner of Police following news that the electoral materials for the Primary Election in Anambra State were deposited at the said office.
9. When aspirants assembled in the office of the State Commissioner of Police, issues were raised as to which list of delegates was to be used for the Primary Election since there was no Delegates Congress whatsoever for election of the three-man Delegates on 1stNovember 2014 in Anambra State as prescribed by law and the PDP Electoral Guidelines.
10. Consequent on the above, the 1st Defendant Electoral Panel that came from Abuja to conduct the Primary Election led by Alaye Tremie Jnr., after due consultation with the aspirants present in the office of the Police Commissioner decided to hand over all the electoral materials meant for the Primary Election to the Commissioner for safekeeping, and thereafter returned to Abuja.
I waited with my aides in Awka till 6pm, and thereafter, left for my house. I was therefore surprised to see on AIT Television later that evening reports that some Senatorial Aspirants in Anambra Central Senatorial District had shamelessly declared themselves winners of Primary Elections that existed only in their own imagination and desperation.
11. I know as a fact that no National Assembly Primary Election took place in Anambra State on 7th December, 2014 or thereafter to elect National Assembly candidates for the PDP in Anambra State.
The 1st Defendant has since 7th December 2014 failed, refused and neglected to inform the Plaintiff, of the new date for a lawful Primary to elect/select National Assembly Candidates that will fly the flag of the Party in the National Assembly elections that the 2nd Defendant has now rescheduled to take place on 28th of March 2014. A copy of the Politics Page (Page 18) of The Guardian Newspaper of Thursday, December 11, 2014 confirming that National Assembly Primary Elections did not take place in Anambra State on 7th December, 2014 is attached and marked Exhibit D.
12. I am aware that by letter dated 15thDecember 2014 written by the 1st Defendant to the 2nd Defendant, the 1st Defendant tacitly conceded that no Primaries took place in Anambra State but represented that “only the candidates approved by the National Executive Committee (through the National Working Committee) of our party are legally authorised to stand elections in the 2015 General Elections”. The letter is annexed hereto and marked Exhibit E.
13. I have a copy of a report published on page 52 of the Daily Sun of 12th January, 2015 by the 2nd Defendant confirming that it monitored a purported Senatorial Primary of the 1st Defendant’s Ejike Oguebego faction on the 7th of December, 2014. A copy of the report is hereby annexed and marked Exhibit F.
14. I am aware that the 2ndDefendant had in the guise of a “Court Order” by Justice E.S. Chukwu of the Federal High Court, Federal Capital Territory, Abuja in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/854/2014 of 5/12/14, published on its website names of candidates that emerged from the aforementioned illegal Primary which its agents in Anambra State contrived with the said Oguebego faction; thereby misleading the general public and voters that these unlawfully selected candidates (especially in Anambra Central Senatorial District) were the bona fide candidates of the 1st Defendant to contest the National Assembly elections now rescheduled to 28th March, 2015.
15. I know that by the extant laws in Nigeria, only the Candidates that emerged from an appropriate and lawfully organised Primaries by the National Working Committee of the 1st Defendant can stand for elections in Nigeria.
16. I know that on the 6th of February 2015, the Court of Appeal Abuja Judicial Division allowed the Appeal CA/A/737/2014) of the 1st Defendant against the Judgment of the Federal High Court, FCT Division in the aforementioned Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/854/2014.
A copy of the Enrolled Order of the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division in Appeal, Abuja Division in Appeal No. CA/A/737/2014 Between: Peoples Democratic Party (Appellant) and EJIKE OGUEBEGO & 3 ORS (Respondents), is hereby attached and marked Exhibit F.
17. I know that by the extant laws in Nigeria, the 1st Defendant’s Electoral Guidelines 2014, and the 2010 Electoral Act as amended, the 1st Defendant is not allowed to act arbitrarily or with impunity in the process of nomination of its candidates for the 2015 National Assembly Elections, but must comply fully with all relevant legislation on the issue of Nomination and its own Guidelines for Primary Elections.
18. I know as a fact that the 2nd Defendant did not attend/monitor and could not have attended or monitored any National Assembly Primary Election organised by the National Working Committee of the 1st Defendant in Anambra State on the 7th of December 2014: the same day that they were already hand in gloves with the non-existent Ejike Oguebego Faction of 1st Defendant.
19. The 1st Defendant, without organizing and duly conducting a National Assembly Primary election is now plotting in connivance with its South East Zonal Executive Committee, to unlawfully and deviously submit an illegal, contrived and fictitious list of candidates to the 2nd defendant for the National Assembly elections now rescheduled to take place on the 28th of March 2015.
20. I will suffer irreversibly if the 1st Defendant is allowed to arbitrarily, unlawfully and without due process, submit by any gimmick whatsoever, a fictitious or unlawfully contrived list of candidates (especially for Anambra Central Senatorial District) to the 2nd Defendant for the purpose of the National Assembly Election to be conducted by 2nd Defendant on the 28th of March 2015.
21. Despite the fact that the Primary Election for which I paid the sum of N4.5 million as EOI and NM fees was not conducted, the 1st Defendant has refused and failed to refund the said amount of N4.5 Million which it collected from me for a Primary Election it has failed to conduct.
22. Pursuant to my aspiration to be the Senatorial Candidate of the 1st Defendant, I ran a campaign for which I spent huge sums of money, inter alia in printing/deploying campaign materials, travelling and hosting political stakeholders in the seven Local Government Areas in Anambra Central Senatorial District.
23. I have been deprived of my interest in the Primary Election in which I had hoped to emerge as the flag bearer of the 1st Defendant and its Senatorial candidate for the Anambra Central Senatorial District in the forthcoming 2015 election.
24. The failure and or refusal of the 1st Defendant to hold an appropriate Primary Election for National Assembly aspirants has deprived me of my legitimate expectations in the Primary Election of the 1st Defendant and my ambition to fly its flag as the Senatorial candidate for Anambra Central Senatorial district in an election which I have high hopes of winning.
25. I have therefore been put to great pain, irreparable psychological injury, substantial hardship and losses. Also the confidence of my numerous sponsors and supporters in the whole political process has drastically waned, with unquantifiable long-term deleterious impact on my political fortune and future.
I respectfully pray the Honorable Court to expeditiously grant the reliefs sought in this suit as follows;
(a) A Declaration that by virtue of the PDP Electoral Guidelines 2014 and the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), the 1st Defendant is enjoined to conduct Primary Election to elect/nominate its candidates for the 2015 National Assembly election in Anambra State and particularly to nominate/elect its Senatorial candidate for Anambra Central Senatorial Constituency for the forthcoming General Election.
(b) A Declaration that the refusal/neglect of the 1st defendant to comply with the mandatory provisions of S.87 (1) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and the Electoral Guidelines for Primary Elections 2014 (page 2) with respect to election/selection of its National Assembly candidates in Anambra State is unlawful and constitutes a flagrant violation of the Electoral Act.
(c) A Declaration that the 1st Defendant having failed to conduct and organize primaries for its National Assembly Aspirants in Anambra state, the party cannot field National Assembly Candidates for the 2015 General Election to be conducted by the 2nd Defendant and previously scheduled to hold on 14th February 2015, but now rescheduled to hold on 28 March 2015.
(d) A Declaration that the 1st Defendant is not entitled to keep the sum of N4.5 million (Four Million, Five Hundred Thousand Naira) paid by the Plaintiff, for the PDP Senate Expression of Interest (EOI) & Nomination (NM) Forms to enable the Plaintiff contest the Primary Election for Anambra Central Senatorial District, when the 1st Defendant refused, failed and/or neglected to conduct any Primary Election whatsoever to elect a candidate as its flag bearer for Anambra Central Senatorial District.
(e) An Order of the Honorable Court restraining the 2nd Defendant from accepting or acting on any purported list of candidates submitted by the 1st Defendant for the 2015 National Assembly General Elections in Anambra State or allowing any candidate of the 1st defendant to contest the 2015 National Assembly election previously fixed for 14th February, 2014 but now rescheduled to hold on 28 March 2015.
(f) The sum of N4.5 million (Four Million, Five Hundred Thousand) Naira as refund of the EOI & NM fees paid to the 1st Defendant, being money had and received from the Plaintiff by the 1st Defendant for a consideration which totally failed.
(g) AND FOR SUCH FURTHER and or other orders as the Honorable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstance.
27. I swear to this affidavit honestly believing the contents to be true and correct to the best of my knowledge and in accordance with the Oaths Act.
Sworn to at the
Federal Capital Territory High Court
This 18th Day of February 2015.
COMMISSIONER FOR OATHS.