Assailed by knotty legal challenges and possibility that it may not feature on the ballot in the forthcoming Anambra State gubernatorial poll, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has initiated talks aimed at adopting an alternative political platform.
The Guardian gathered that the move is aimed at beating the July 30 deadline for withdrawal and replacement of candidates; and August 6 deadline for submission of nomination forms (EC13B) by political parties for the November 6 governorship poll in the state.
A chieftain of the party, told The Guardian in Abuja, yesterday, that the party has been looking into issues surrounding the parallel governorship primary, which threw up Mr. Valentine Ozigbo and Senator Ugochukwu Uba as rival candidates for the November 6, 2021 governorship election in the state.
He disclosed that discreet investigation revealed that the crises in the major political parties in Anambra State are emanating from one source, adding that the party sees the refusal by a member of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), Chief Chris Uba, to withdraw multiple litigations against the party from the court as sinister and ill-motivated.
Although the party chieftain declared that details are being worked out by stakeholders, he explained that the emerging coalition involves members from across party lines to call the bluff of one family that insists on holding the state to ransom politically.
“We have barely two weeks to the deadline for the withdrawal and substitution of candidates for the Anambra poll. I think the popular stance of stakeholders of the party is to adopt another party as a SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle) for a PDP candidate to participate in the election,” the source from Nasarawa State, remarked.
It would be recalled that Ozigbo and Uba obtained conflicting court orders mandating INEC to list them individually as PDP candidate for the Anambra governorship poll.
However, based on the fact that both judgments are from courts of coordinate jurisdictions, indicators emerged that the electoral commission, which meets tomorrow (Tuesday) is not disposed to acting on any, but to stick to the earlier order restraining it from listing neither as PDP’s candidate.
PDP, in a statement accused Justice O. A. Nwabunike of Anambra State High Court, of frustrating it in a desperate effort to delay appeal of his ruling, in which the court ordered INEC to accept no other candidate except Senator Ugochukwu Uba as PDP standard-bearer for the November 6, poll.
According to the statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, PDP alerted Nigerians of “plots by Justice O.A Nwabunike to derail the course of justice by making away with the case file on the Senator Ugochukwu Uba Vs PDP & Others in a desperate bid to frustrate an appeal against his judgment on PDP Anambra State Governorship Primary Election.”
While urging Justice Nwabunike to immediately release the case file, PDP lamented that the compromises in the case are already public knowledge, especially to the people of Anambra State.
The party stated: “The only reason Justice Nwabunike disappeared with the case file and refused to make copies of his judgment available to the PDP and its candidate, Valentine Ozigbo, is because he (Justice Nwabunike) is aware that his perverted judgment cannot stand in any appeal.
“On July 5, 2021, an aspirant, Senator Ugochukwu Uba, who did not participate in the PDP primary, instituted a suit against the PDP, our candidate (Ozigbo) and INEC), wherein he challenged Ozigbo’s candidature for the November 6, 2021 governorship election.
“Barely 24 hours after Senator Uba instituted the suit, Justice Nwabunike curiously granted an ex parte injunction restraining INEC from carrying out their constitutional duty and also abridged the time within which the Defendants are legally obliged to file their defence from 42 days to only 3 days in violation of Order 16 Rule 1(2) of the Anambra State High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2019.”
PDP regretted that despite the obvious hardship created by this strange ex parte order, the judge, on the day of hearing (16th of July 2021), denied the defendants time to respond to the processes served on them and proceeded with the hearing of the plaintiff’s case.
“Regardless of the 180 days provided by the Constitution for the hearing and determination of pre-election matters, the Honorable Court hastily concluded proceedings and delivered judgment within 14 days.
“The most unfortunate part of this episode is that the judge, after hastily delivering the Judgment, made away with the case file and refused to release copies of his judgment to the defendants despite their application in the open Court, as well as the officially written application to the judge.
“However, to the chagrin of the Defendants, the Court has gone ahead to issue copies of the Judgment to the plaintiff, Senator Uba,” PDP noted, just as it called on the Chief Judge of Anambra State, Honorable Justice O.M Anyachebelu and the National Judicial Council (NJC) to quickly call Justice O.A Nwabunike to order.
The Guardian learned that PDP was working on a plan B, which might see it fielding the first runner-up in the governorship primary on the SPV, while it continues to prosecute the legal battle over Ozigbo’s candidacy.
It could be recalled that uncertainty started mounting over the fate of the party’s primary, which threw up the former President and CEO of Transcorp Group, Valentine Ozigbo, following complaints that the exercise did not conform with the stipulations of the PDP Constitution.
The Federal High Court Abuja, sacked the state executive committee headed Chief Ndubuisi Nwobu days to the primary, as such the party could not meet up with the mandatory two-third quorum of delegates at congress for a valid primary.
Faced with that challenge, the PDP NWC led by Prince Uche Secondus citing conflicting court orders, decided to hold the contentious primary with only 218 delegates referred to as “super delegates” in place of two-third quorum of members from the three senatorial districts of the state as provided by Section 25 (4) of the PDP Constitution.
A party chieftain from the state confided in The Guardian that leaders from the 21 council areas of Anambra State have indicated their willingness to support the move for a SPV.
He stated: “I can confirm to you that leaders and stakeholders of our party across the 21 local governments in the state have been meeting on the possibility of moving our political structures to the alternative party for the election.
“There are so many litigations and court orders are flying about, the uncertainty is high and if care is not taken, Anambra PDP might end up like Zamfara State APC during the November 6, election.”