The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) faces a major legal test to its ability to contest the 2023 General elections in Enugu State following the application by Labour Party to join a suit seeking the disqualification of all PDP candidates in Enugu from participating in the elections.
The suit is seeking an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) and PDP from fielding candidates for all positions in the 2023 elections, including the Governorship, the Senatorial, the House of Representatives and the House of Assembly in the state.
The suit, which was originally brought against PDP by the African Democratic Congress (ADC) Senatorial candidate for Enugu North Senatorial District, Comrade Chika Emmanuel Idoko, at the Federal High Court, Abuja, has been transferred to the Federal High Court Enugu. It is slated for hearing on Thursday, November 24, 2022.
Labour party’s motion for joinder, according to court filings made on its behalf by Messrs Chukwudei Igwe, Emeka Abba, Helen Ugwu, and Oluseyi Adegbejo, was brought pursuant to Order 26 Rules 1 & 2, Order 9 rule 14 (2) (b) of the Federal High Court of Nigeria (Civil Procedure) Rules 2019. The motion states that as a political party, “Labour Party is an interested party in the suit, being a political party with interest in the elections.”
Listed as respondents in the suit, No FHC/EN/CS/217/22, are the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the governorship candidate of the PDP in the 2023 elections in the state, Barr. Peter Mbah, Senatorial candidate of the party for Enugu North senatorial district, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, as well as all Senatorial, House of Representatives and House of Assembly candidates of the party in the state.
The Labour Party, in the suit, is alleging that PDP violated provisions of the Electoral Act, which prescribes a minimum number of days of notice before conducting the party primaries that produced the candidates that it submitted to INEC, ahead of the 2023 elections. The party is therefore seeking a declaration by the Court barring PDP from taking part in the elections.
The suit also seeks a declaration that “by the interpretations of the express provisions of Sections 82(5) and 84(13)of the Electoral Act, 2022, the failure of the 2nd defendant to submit the register of members 30 days to the primary election to the 1st defendant, as statutorily required, renders the 2nd defendant’s primary election for nomination of the 3rd to 38th Defendants as candidates for Governorship, Senate, House of Representatives and House of Assembly in Enugu State for the 2023 General Election held on 21st, 22nd, 24th and 23 and 25th May 2022 invalid.”
Section 82 of the Electoral Act states in part that “every registered political party shall give the Commission at least 21 days’ notice of any convention, congress, conference or meeting convened for the purpose of “merger” and electing members of its executive committees, other governing bodies or nominating candidates for any of the elective offices specified under this Act.” Failure to comply with this Section, according to the Act, shall render the convention, congress, conference or meeting invalid.
Other prayers before the Court by the Plaintiffs include a “declaration that by the interpretation of the express provisions of Section 84 (13) of the Electoral Act, 2022, the 1st defendant is under a duty not to include the 3rd to 38th defendants as Candidates for Governorship, Senate, House of Representatives and House of Assembly in Enugu State for the 2023 general election.”