Chike Maduekwe, lawyer and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senatorial aspirant in Anambra Central Senatorial district in the 2015 polls, spoke with KODILINYE OBIAGWU, South East Bureau Chief on the implications of the recent Appeal Court ruling, quashing the election of Mrs. Uche Ekwunife as senator in the zone. Maduekwe, who is also in court contesting the non-conduct of primaries in Anambra, said that the PDP will reap “bad seeds” from lingering election litigations.
How does the recent ruling by the Appeal Court nullifying the election of Mrs. Uche Ekwunife in Anambra Central senatorial district affect your case challenging the conduct of primaries in Anambra?
The judgment of the Court of Appeal Enugu Division nullifying the election of Ekwunife as Senator has several grave implications for the PDP, including the fact that the party may not be able to lawfully sponsor any candidate in the rerun election.
The appeal brought by Chief Victor Umeh of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) against Ekwunife is not im pari materia with my matter before Justice O.O.Goodluck of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court. However, the consequence of the nullification is similar to our contention that anybody sponsored by the PDP without holding a primary election is a pretender, an impostor and an interloper. By divine providence, while our matter is still alive in the FCT High Court, the Justices of the Appeal Court have given the good people of Anambra Central District a remedy by ordering a new election, thereby restoring the status quo ante bellum.
My case is a pre-election matter based on Section 87(1) of the Electoral Act, which states that every political party that wishes to sponsor a candidate in any election in Nigeria, must organise a primary, whether direct or indirect.
It is my contention in suit FCT/HC/ABJ/CV/1110/2015 that PDP and its National Working Committee (NWC) did not organise any primary whatsoever to elect or nominate its candidates for the 2015 National Assembly Election in Anambra State as required by section 87 (1) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and the PDP Electoral Guidelines for Primary Elections 2014. The consequence of this failure and refusal to conduct a primary for its National Assembly aspirants is that PDP cannot sponsor and should not have sponsored any candidate in the 2015 National Assembly Election or any subsequent rerun of the said election. As the matter is now before a court of competent jurisdiction for adjudication, I will refrain from commenting on the merits of the case.
From your participation as an aspirant, how do you explain the circumstances that led the situation where you allege the party didn’t conduct primaries?
Prior to the 2015 National Assembly Elections there were stories all over the place that National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP was at the center of a thriving black market for what I call “wait and take” black market for primaries where party tickets were sold to deep pockets. The stories turned out to be true when after collecting N4.5 million from senatorial aspirants as nomination and EOI fees and forcefully demanding a further N200,000 from each senatorial aspirant as “kola” for members of the screening panel, the NWC went ahead to force the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to publish the names of billionaire aspirants who reportedly paid mind-boggling sums of money to be selected as the party candidates for the National Assembly elections in Anambra.
These said “candidates” had one thing in common: all of them had held high offices in government. The most worrisome aspect of this act of the NWC is that after awarding the party tickets to their cohorts, they refused to return the money they obtained from us and thereafter had the effrontery to admit during their face off with staff of WADATA PLAZA that they used the same funds to fund the elections of their wealthy clients some of who escaped the wrath of the justices of the Court of Appeal. But we know that by the Grace of God, the just shall be vindicated and the wicked shall not go unpunished. Certainly, the PDP should not expect justice from the Courts of Equity.
What, if any, are the implications of the Appeal Court Judgment for the PDP, seeing the surfeit of litigation?
The immediate implication is that PDP faces the possibility of not having a candidate in the re-run election, especially if the courts decide that there were no primaries. Another far reaching implication is that all the beneficiaries of that election may be asked to vacate their seats in the National Assembly if the Court finds that the party did not comply with Section 87(1).
While other cases are going on, there is the case instituted by Chief Chris Uba and the Nnamdi Oguebego faction of the PDP, at the Supreme Court, against the NWC, saying that because INEC monitored their primaries, it is their own candidates that should be sponsored by PDP. Judgment is expected in that case in the Supreme Court, possibly before the re-run election. Incidentally, INEC had published the names of candidates from the primary conducted by that faction, before PDP went to court and obtained a court order compelling INEC to remove the names of the Oguebego faction from their website and replace them with the names manufactured by the NWC.
The electoral commission, however, has continued to insist before all the Courts in the land that they only monitored the primary conducted by the Oguebego/Uba faction.
Another implication flowing from the multiplicity of litigation arising from the refusal of the PDP NWC to conduct a primary in Anambra is that there are many but different PDP primary election result sheets before various Courts in Anambra and Abuja, all ostensibly issued by the Alamie Tremie Anambra PDP Primary Election panel. We have filed a petition with the appropriate Police and Security Agencies to investigate this crime of Forgery and Perjury and prosecute the culprits. That panel never conducted any primary election in Anambra and so we are shocked that Ekwunife and some other aspirants are exhibiting result sheets purported to have been issued by the panel in different courts.
What is the implication to the other litigations, if the courts declare that there was no primary or the PDP loses the re-run election?
They will all fail, because then, it would have been established that they were built on falsehood. There is nothing they can use to prove that there was a primary.
You left APGA to seek the senatorial ticket in PDP. Are you not worried of any reprisals for suing the PDP?
The party should be grateful to me for helping it to clear this electoral mess it has found itself in. My suit is not a personal vendetta against anybody. I came to court by Originating Summons procedure, which by the way is a friendly suit. All I have done is to ask the Court to declare the law and the rights of the parties and then grant appropriate reliefs. From the earliest times the law has entrenched that where there is a wrong there must be a remedy and that is expressed in the legal maxim Ubi jus ibi remedium.
Yes, I have been threatened but I am not scared. I have spoken the truth because I serve the one true God, that is the same God who owns the earth and the fullness thereof (including the PDP). The truth that sets us free usually annoys before it sets us free. I hope the PDP will use the truth it knows to find freedom from the total destruction looming in the horizon. I am not afraid because my God is already pleading my cause and I know He will justify and vindicate me.
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