Nine National Assembly members from Anambra State, including Senators Andy Uba and Stella Oduah, have written the Independent National Electoral Commission, disputing reports that they were sacked by the Supreme Court on Friday.
Apart from Messrs. Uba (Anambra South) and Oduah lAnambra North) who are Senators, the other lawmakers believed to be affected are Lynda Ikpeazu, Anayo Nnebe, Tony Nwoye, Chris Azubogu, Chukwuka Onyema, Obinna Chidoka and Eucharia Azodo who are members of the House of Representatives.
Uche Ekwunife who represented Anambra South had earlier been sacked by the Appeal Court which ordered fresh election in her constituency.
All the lawmakers, who are members of Peoples Democratic, were sacked by the Supreme Court which subsequently replaced them with other PDP members.
The apex court’s decision followed an appeal by a faction of the PDP in Anambra state, led by Ejike Oguebego, which sought that it be recognised as the authentic executive of the party in the state and therefore the right organ to conduct primary elections to choose candidates for the 2015 elections in the state.
The other faction, led by Augustine Akobundo, submitted the list containing the names of the nine lawmakers and Ms. Ekwunife to INEC. Backed by the national leadership of the party, the commission accepted Mr. Akobundo’s list.
Both factions held separate primaries.
But the Supreme Court affirmed the authenticity of Mr. Ogbuebego’s executive, the validity of its primaries and list of candidates – Chris Uba, John Emeka and Annie Okonkwo – and others who emerged therefrom.
However, in a letter to INEC Chairman through their counsel, Arthur Okafor, the lawmakers asked that the Commission should not be misled to withdraw their Certificates of Return.
They said the Supreme Court did not sack them; rather it affirmed that the national leadership, not the state executive of the party had authority over submission of candidates for national assembly elections.
Meanwhile, the PDP national leadership forwarded to INEC the names of candidates sent to it by the Akobundo executive — Messrs Uba, Oduah, Ekwunife and others. That executive has now been declared illegal by the Supreme Court.
Of the Supreme Court’s ruling, the letter by the embattled lawmakers read in part, “This appeal has now excited some attention and has been subjected to blatant and crude misinterpretations which have necessitated this correspondence.
“This correspondence is aimed at setting the record straight so that your good self will not again be misled by your legal department into unjustifiably occasioning an unnecessary confusion in the process. The judgment under reference is SC. 37 /2015: CHIEF EJIKE OGUEBEGO & ANOR v. PEOPLES DEMOCRATIC PARTY & ORS.
“May I draw your attention to the most pertinent segment of the Judgment for the purpose of the status of the legislators sponsored by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at pages 46, 47 and 48 of the Judgment where their lordships of the Supreme Court held as follows:-
“The Court below, however, veered from the course set by the trial court and took the matter to another level which clearly failed to take into consideration the main issue before the trial court. On page 1291 of Volume 3 of the record of appeal the Court of Appeal held as follows:-
“It is established beyond peradventure that it is the National Executive Committee of the appellant which has the power to conduct a valid primary for the nomination or selection of candidates for a general election. See EMEKA V. OKADIGBOsupra and EMENIKE v. PDP supra. Reliefs 3, 5 and 6 were predicated on the possibility of congress and primary being conducted by the caretaker committee set up by the appellant. There was no evidence to back this up. Exhibit D at page 32 of Volume 1 of the record (the letter of PDP appointing the South East Executive to oversee the affairs of the Anambra State Chapter “until congresses are held”) does not suggest that the congresses were to be held by the South East Zonal Executive.”
The letter further stated that, “Our clients were duly nominated by the National Executive of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the 2015 General Election and they contested the Election and were duly returned as elected.
“They were subsequently issued with their respective Certificates of Return and have since been performing the duties for which they were elected by their respective constituents before the election and during the nomination process, the National Executive duly forwarded our clients’ names which the Commission duly received.
“Thereafter owing to some shenanigans by some staff of the Commission whom our clients believed were working for a self-styled State Executive Committee which were determined against the serene and settled position of the law to sponsor candidates for the Peoples Democratic party (PDP), our clients’ names were relegated.
“This created a situation whereby the legal department of the Commission commenced playing a “musical chair” with list of candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) when they were fully aware that the only authority that is competent to forward names of candidates is the National Executive Committee by virtue of correspondence signed by its National Chairman and Secretary. In two (2) remarkable pronouncements, the Supreme Court of Nigeria eloquently held that no list other than that forwarded by the National Executive of the PeoplesDemocratic Party (PDP) shall be countenanced by the Commission.