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Court invalidates PDP primary election, declares violations of electoral act and party guidelines

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In a significant judicial ruling, the Federal High Court in Abuja invalidated the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) primary election held on February 22, 2024, which had produced Asue Ighodalo as its governorship candidate.

The decision, delivered on Thursday, by the presiding judge, Inyang Ekwo followed a suit filed by aggrieved delegates, including Kelvin Mohammed, representing the excluded voters.

Legal Grounds for Invalidation

Ekwo voided the primaries due to the unlawful exclusion of 378 delegates who were supposed to participate in the voting process.

This exclusion was deemed contrary to the provisions of the law, constituting gross violations of the Electoral Act 2022, PDP guidelines, and the party’s constitution.

The primary election, conducted at Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin, was found to have been manipulated, with insufficient and unproven evidence provided by the PDP.

Evidence of Manipulation

The judge noted that the returning officers had manipulated the result sheets, undermining the integrity of the election.

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Ekwo noted that the plaintiffs successfully established their case through the exhibits presented, which demonstrated the illegitimacy of the election process.

Role of INEC

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the first defendant in the suit, filed a memorandum of appearance but did not submit further processes. INEC’s counsel indicated their intention to abide by the court’s decision, which ultimately upheld the plaintiffs’ arguments.

Successful Plaintiffs

The 378 ad-hoc delegates, loyal to the impeached Edo State Deputy Governor Philip Shaibu, were represented by plaintiffs including Kelvin Mohammed, Gabriel Okoduwa, and Ederaho Osagie.

They filed the suit on February 8, seeking orders to prevent their exclusion from the primaries. The court granted their reliefs, reinforcing the importance of adherence to electoral laws and party guidelines.

Implications for PDP

This ruling marks a critical juncture for the PDP, emphasizing the need for transparency and legality in the conduct of party primaries.

The court’s decision underscores the judicial system’s role in upholding electoral integrity and the rights of party members. As the PDP navigates the aftermath of this judgment, the party’s commitment to lawful and fair electoral processes will be under scrutiny.

(Edited by Oludare Mayowa; omayowa@globalfinancialdigest.com; Newsroom: +234 8033 964 138)

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