An Abuja Federal High Court on Monday sacked two members of the House of Representatives from Enugu State for alleged wrongful emergence as flagbearers of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the 2015 general elections.
The affected lawmakers are Stella Ngwu from Igbo-Etiti and Uzo-Uwani Federal Constituency, and Dennis Agbo from Igbo-Eze North and Udenu Federal Constituency.
Two other members of the party, Gabriel Okafor and Chijioke Ugwu, had approached the court after PDP conducted its primaries in December 2014, ahead of the 2015 general elections.
They argued in separate suits later merged by the court that Stella Ngwu and Denis Agbo’s emergence as flagbearers of the party was wrong, since they were not elected delegates to represent the party at the November 1 congress held in 2014.
The PDP and its National Working Committee were the 1st and 2nd defendants in the suits, while the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was the 3rd defendant. Ms. Ngwu and Mr. Agbo were the 4th defendants in the two separate suits.
They prayed the court to declare the election of the fourth defendants null and void.
The trial judge, Okon Abang, held that the emergence of Ms. Ngwu and Mr. Agbo was unlawful.
He ordered them to vacate their offices and return to the treasury of the National Assembly all monies they had collected by way of salaries and allowances since they resumed office in the House.
Mr. Abang said the PDP and its National Working Committee had no right nor authority to use any delegate list for the election of its candidate for Igbo-Etiti/Uzo-Uwani and Igbo-Eze North/Udenu Federal Constituencies, respectively, other than the list of delegates that emerged at congresses held on November 1, 2014.
“It is hereby declared that the 4th defendant did not emerge as winner from the primary election conducted for the purpose of electing the House of Representatives’ candidate of the 1st defendant for Igbo-Etiti/Uzo-Uwani Federal Constituency for 2015 general election since the primary election that purportedly produced her as winner was not conducted based on the list of delegates that emerged from ward congresses of the 1st defendant held on 1st November, 2014.
“It is hereby declared that the plaintiff, Dr. Gabriel .A. Okafor won PDP’s party primary election on 6th December,2014 for Igbo-Etiti/Uzo-Uwani Federal Constituency election into the House of Representatives.”
“It is hereby declared that the 4th defendant did not emerge as a winner from the primary election conducted for the purpose of electing the House of Representatives’ candidate of the 1st defendant for Igbo-Eze North/Udenu Federal Constituency for 2015 general election since the primary election that purportedly produced her as winner was not conducted based on the list of delegates that emerged from ward congresses of the 1st defendant held on 1st November, 2014.”
The judge ruled that Mr. Okafor was the rightful winner of the Igbo-Etiti/Uzo-Uwani Federal Constituency seat election, and Mr. Chijioke Ugwu won the Egbo-Eze North/Udenu Federal Constituency, Enugu State in 2015.
He ordered INEC to immediately issue certificates of return to Messrs. Okafor and Ugwu respectively. He also awarded the sum of N100, 000 as cost against the defendants in favour of the plaintiff.
The sacked lawmakers are expected to appeal the ruling and the House of Representatives may not enforce the judgement until appeals are exhausted.
CONTROVERSIAL ANTI-PDP RULINGS
Tuesday’s rulings occur one week after Mr. Abang declared controversial businessman, Jimoh Ibrahim as the rightful governorship candidate of the PDP for the forthcoming Ondo gubernatorial election. He ordered INEC to replace the name of Eyitayo Jegede with that of Mr. Ibrahim.
Last week’s ruling was based on an earlier ruling he gave in June where he barred the PDP from holding its national convention in Port Harcourt after he recognised a faction of the party led by Ali Modu Sheriff. The controversial rulings on the PDP leadership tussle were later investigated by the National Judicial Council, NJC. The judge later told his close friends that he had been cleared of any wrongdoing by the NJC.
Mr. Abang was also berated by the Court of Appeal for sacking the Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, and replacing him with Samson Ogar after he ruled that Mr. Ikpeazu had tax clearance problems in a pre-election matter. The Court of Appeal reversed that ruling.