Chief Ifeanyi Chukwuma Odii has been declared as the authentic Ebonyi State PDP Candidate for the 2023 general elections, by the Supreme Court.
In the appeal marked: SC/CV/939/2022, the panel of five justices led by Justice Amina Augie, pronounced Chief Odii as the Ebony PDP guber Candidate on Wednesday, September 14, over Senator Obinna Ogba, after entertaining final submissions from parties’ lawyers.
In a lead judgment Justice delivered by Lawal Garba, the five-member panel of Supreme Court Justices headed by Justice Amina Augie, declared unanimously that Senator Obinna Ogba lacked legal right to have filed an appeal in the court below.
Justice Lawal Garba, in a lead judgment of a five-member panel, on Wednesday, held that Senator Obinna Ogba, who represents Ebonyi Central Senatorial Zone, lacked legal right to have filed an appeal in the court below.
He said the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal lacked the jurisdiction to have entertained the suit in the first instance since Mr Ogba was not a party in the entire proceedings conducted by the trial court (a Federal High Court sitting in Abakaliki).
The Supreme Court further held that the entire proceedings conducted by the appellant court was found to be without jurisdiction and described it as an exercise in futility.
“You cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stand; it will definitely collapse,” Justice Garba said.
The judge, therefore, said he found merit in the appeal filed by Mr Odii and the Supreme Court declared Ifeanyi Chukwuma Odii as the validly elected candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the 2023 Ebonyi governorship election.
Mr Garba consequently set aside the judgment of the Court of Appeal ruling delivered on June 19, declaring Mr Ogba as the validly elected candidate of the party and also averred that the appeal filed by Mr Ogba, the 1st respondent, before the appellant court was done without legal backing.
Justice Amina Augie and other justices in the panel also backed Mr Garba’s judgment, describing the decision as meritorious.
The bone of contention in the Ebonyi PDP dispute was centered on the jostle between the faction of the Party headed by Silas Onu and the Tobechukwu Okorie faction and the validity of the two primaries held on May 28 to 29, 202 that produced Dr. Ifeanyi Odii as it’s elevte and Senator Obinna Ogba on June 4 and 5, 2022.
While Odii emerged in the first primary held on May 28 to 29, 2022 that was monitored by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Senator Ogba has been given a certificate of return by the PDP.
The 3-man delegates list used for the first primary was the product of the state PDP Congress of May 7, 2022 which was eventually recognised by the PDP National Working Committee, NWC.
The primaries, authorised by the PDP NWC, were peacefully conducted with the INEC monitoring the exercise in line with the Electoral Guidelines and the 2022 Electoral Act as Odii’s name was thereafter forwarded to INEC on June 10.
Messrs Odii and Ogba were engaged in a legal battle over who was validly elected as the party’s candidate for the 2023 poll in the party’s primaries that took place at different occasions in the state.
The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja had, in July this year, declared Mr Ogba as the governorship candidate of the party in the state, while setting aside the judgment of the trial court sitting in Abakaliki that pronounced Mr Odii as PDP candidate.
But Mr Odii, dissatisfied with the court decision, filed an appeal marked: SC/CV/ 939/2022 at the apex court.
In the suit, Mr Odii sued Mr Ogba, PDP and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as 1st to 3rd respondent.
Meanwhile and in a related development, the Ebonyi State PDP has Congratulated Dr. Ifeanyi Odii on his Supreme Court victory and declaration as the authentic guber Candidate of the party in the forthcoming 2023 governoship election.
The Congratulatory message signed by Nwoba Chika Nwoba,State Publicity Secretary, Ebonyi PDP, reads:
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Ebonyi State chapter congratulates High Chief Ifeanyi Odii on his victory today at the Supreme Court, Abuja over the case of the authentic gubernatorial ticket bearer in the PDP in Ebonyi State between himself and the Senator representing Ebonyi Central Zone, Sen. Obinna Ogba.
We wish to state that the victory is one of the PDP in particular and Ebonyi people in general, urging party members, supporters and the general public to see the victory as the first step in the journey towards restoring the state of Ebonyi to the path of good governance that the party had always given since 1999. We thank the teeming supporters and members of PDP for the high level of leniency they kept throughout the moments the litigations lasted.
We charge both High Chief Ifeanyi Odii and Sen. Obinna Ogba to see this finality as a journey that has just begun in view of the determination of the party to reclaim its place in the leadership register of Ebonyi State as there exists no victor nor vanquish in this case. We plead with members and supporters to cease from making comments that may have the potentiality to divide the party and present anyone as loser. PDP is one in Ebonyi State and we need a more united force to pursue the task of winning the 2023 gubernatorial election in Ebonyi State!
Once again, Congratulations to High Chief Ifeanyi Odii! Congratulations to PDP and Ebonyi people! Power to the people!
▪︎Nwoba Chika Nwoba,
State Publicity Secretary, Ebonyi PDP.