CONFUSION reigned, yesterday, in most parts of Anambra State following the ruling of the Supreme Court sacking all members of the National Assembly elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The Supreme Court ruled that the list of nominated candidates in the last election from the Ejike Oguebego-led executive of Anambra State PDP was the only one to be recognised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The apex court, according to Vanguard Newspaper, sacked the two remaining senators and 11 members of the House of Representatives representing Anambra. The senators are Andy Uba (Anambra South) and Stella Oduah (Anambra North). The Court of Appeal had earlier sacked Senator Uche Ekwunife (Anambra Central) and ordered a re-run. Delivering judgement, Justice Binta Ogunbiyi held that the lawmakers were illegally foisted on the PDP by an unrecognised state executive of the party.
Ogunbiyi held that the Oguebego-led executive was the only constitutionally recognised leadership of the PDP to conduct the party’s primaries. In December 2014, the Federal High Court had ruled that the Ejike Oguebego-led executive was the only constitutionally recognised leadership of the party in Anambra that could conduct the PDP primaries.
Despite that ruling, the parallel state executive of the PDP went ahead to conduct parallel primaries. The National Elect oral Commission (INEC) and the PDP National Working Committee (NWC) supervised the primaries conducted by Oguebego’s executive on December 6 and 7, 2014. At the end of the exercise, the NWC of the PDP and INEC declared Chris Uba winner for Anambra South, Prince John Emeka for Anambra North and Annie Okonkwo for Anambra Central.
The apex court’s decision prematurely terminated the tenure of former Aviation Minister Oduah in the Senate. It also quashed the legislative career of Senator Andy Uba, presidential aide to former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Ogunbiyi ruled that the candidates who emerged from the primaries conducted by the Oguebego-led group were the true representatives from the state to occupy the vacant seats.
“The decision of the apex court is done to restore justice and discourage impunity in the polity. The judgement also lays out the proper procedures for selection of political parties legislative candidates,” she held. Chief Chris Uba, who is Senator Andy Uba’s younger brother and Prince John Emeka are expected to take over the seats vacated by Senator Uba and Oduah respectively.
Regarded as the godfather of Anambra PDP, Chris Uba, known as Eselu Uga, played crucial roles in the emergence of Dr Chinwoke Mbadinuju and Dr Chris Ngige as governors of Anambra State on the platform of the PDP. He was a prominent figure in Governor Ngige’s abduction saga before the latter was sacked as governor and replaced by Mr Peter Obi of APGA in 2006.
For the House of Representatives, those who will vacate their seats include: Anayo Nnebe (Awka North and South), Obinna Chidoka (Idemili North and South) Lynda Ikpeazu (Onitsha North and South) Emeka Anohu (Ihiala), Eucharia Azodo (Aguata) Chris Azubogu (Nnewi North/Nnewi South/Ekwusigo), Chukwuka Onyema (Ogbaru), Tony Nwoye (Anambra East and West) and the member for Orumba North and South.
As soon as information filtered into the state after the judgement, people gathered in groups to discuss the matter, with many people wondering why people who neither campaigned nor spent money during elections should just go to the Senate and House of Representatives to occupy seats. Some of the people argued that the various factions of PDP in the state were guilty of the same offence and wondered why the apex court favoured the Oguebego exco.
Mr. Emanuel Ezeka, a retired civil servant said it would appear that the judiciary is encouraging PDP to factionalize in the state, which encouraged the party to field multiple candidates during elections because members of the party knew that either way the party would be declared winner.
With yesterday’s judgement, the three Uba brothers have made history in Nigeria as they have all, at one time or the other, become senators in the country. The first of the Uba’s, Ugochukwu, went into the senate in a similar situation like what happened yesterday, while his younger brother, Andy was serving a second term before their other brother, Chris was declared a senator for Anambra South, yesterday. For Anambra North, Stella Oduah would vacate the seat for Prince Chief John Emeka.
I remain senator-elect – Annie Okonkwo
Speaking on the issue, yesterday, Senator Annie Okonkwo commended the Supreme Court for restoring all hopes to reaffirm the judiciary as the last hope of the common man and the injured. Senator Okonkwo, recently wrote INEC kicking against the commission’s removal of his name, which had earlier been uploaded on its website as the candidate of the PDP ahead of the 28th March, 2015 Election into the Anambra Central Senatorial District seat in the National Assembly. With yesterday’s ruling, Okonkwo said it was obvious that Victor Umeh petitioned the wrong person, Ekwunife, who is not the candidate of the PDP for the election.
• We were duly nominated by PDP – Andy Uba, Oduah, others write INEC
Senators and members of the House of Representatives from Anambra State who had their nominations cancelled by the Supreme Court, yesterday, wrote the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC insisting that they were duly nominated by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP for the 2015 General Election. In a letter dated 29, January, 2016 by the Senators and members of the House of Representatives and made available to Journalists Yesterday in Abuja, they said that after their nominations by the PDP in a letter to INEC, they later contested the Election and were duly returned as elected.
The affected lawmakers are Senators Stella Oduah; Andy Uba; Hon. Lynda Chuba Ikpeazu; Hon. Anayo Nnebe; Hon. Tony Nwoye Okechukwu; Hon. Chris Azubogu; Hon. Chukwuma Onyema; Hon. Obinna Chidoka and Hon. Eucharia Azodo.