The internal wrangling in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Anambra State and the involvement of courts in determining the real candidate for the November 6, 2021 gubernatorial election in Anambra State have been said to be the reason the party is not yet on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) ballot.
Giving the explanation during his interview on Channels Television, Festus Okoye, INEC national commissioner and chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, said it was because the name of the governorship candidate uploaded to the commission’s portal is different from the name affirmed by the court.
Okoye, who was clarifying issues following the INEC released a revised list of candidates for the governorship poll Thursday, said that an appeal court had ruled that the commission should not publish the name of any PDP candidate until the determination of the suit.
Recall that on July 19, an Anambra High Court ordered INEC to recognise Ugochukwu Uba as the party’s candidate, against Valentine Ozigbo, the preferred candidate of the party’s national working committee.
He however, said that the PDP would be added to the candidates’ list after the determination of the suit at the court of appeal.
“In relation to the PDP, what happened was that the PDP as a political party uploaded the name and personal particulars of a particular candidate to our nomination portal, and that was the candidate whose name the commission published,” he said.
“Thereafter, there was also another court judgement ordering and directing the PDP as a political party to submit the name of a different candidate as the candidate of the party,” he further said.
According to him, “The PDP didn’t submit the name of that particular individual, and we can’t publish the name, unless the PDP submits the name of that individual.
“Thereafter, the matter went to the court of appeal and the court of appeal granted accelerated hearing in relation to the matter involving the PDP and its candidate, and then also ask the INEC not to publish the name of any of the candidates pending the final determination of the matter before the court of appeal.”
On the multiple court judgments received by the commission on the forth-coning election, Okoye said politicians are shopping for favourable court judgements.
“What is going on is what in legal parlance, we call ‘forum shopping’ — people who are looking for a place where they can get a favourable decision,” he said.
“For a party that had its primary in Anambra, for instance, some people will go to Bauchi State, some people will go to Jigawa State, some people will go to Imo State and to other places to go and look for a place where they can get a favourable decision.
“It is important for the judiciary to intervene in what is going on. If this spate of multiple and conflicting court orders is carried forward to the 2023 general election, it is going to have far-reaching consequences on our electoral process.”
Recall that Goddy Uwazuruike, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN) had recently decried “Forum shopping”, describing the trend as unfortunate.
Uwazuruike insisted that it was condemnable for politicians in the Anambra election to go to Bauchi High Court, Imo High Court, Jigawa High Court, Ukwa High Court, and other courts playing truancy.
“If the truancy is about Anambra election, what is the business of Ukwa, Birnin Kudu, Owerri, Bauchi, etc? he wondered.
The learned elder statesman expressed the optimism that the legal acrobatics would not sway the Anambra voters from doing the right thing on Election Day.
He said: “Anambra has a peculiar system of governorship elections. In Anambra, the voters are very intelligent; you cannot deceive them. I respect them and I am sure they are monitoring what is going on. I want to advise them to be as consistent as you have been or as it is said in the street, ‘shine your eyes.’”