The High Court of the FCT High Court in suit number FCT/CV/1539/2021 VALENTINE OZIGBO VS PEOPLES DEMOCRATIC PARTY, INEDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION has on Thursday, July 15, 2021 issued an order in an exparte application brought by factional candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Valentine Ozigbo, seeking mandatory and restraining injunctions against the former ruling party, PDP, and the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) complaining that PDP and INEC ought to have submitted and published his name as the candidate of the party having won the primary election held at Dora Akunyili Women Development Centre, Awka.
The court only granted the prayer of Ozigbo for abridgement of time to 5 days for the two defendants in the suit to file their defences but refused and dismissed the application for exparte orders and injunctions.
However, a far reaching order made by the Court prohibits INEC from publishing or parading Ozigbo or any person as PDP candidate in the forthcoming gubernatorial election in Anambra State slated for November 6, 2021.
The order issued by the honourable Justice Y. Halilu and certified by Kuje Affiku, a Registrar of the High Court reads as follows:-
“I Order that all parties to this suit be put on notice, and I also further Order that status quo be maintained by INEC by not publishing the name of any candidate as the Governorship Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party [PDP] pending the hearing of the Motion on Notice”
The court adjourned the case to July 22, 2021.
Valentine Ozigbo, who filed the exparte application before the FCT High Court, is also the 3rd Defendant in the suit filed by Senator Ugochukwu Uba, who is the factional candidate who emerged from the earlier Congress held by the Peoples Democratic Party on the same day at Awka.
Uba, who participated in the two different primaries and won in one but lost to Ozigbo in the other, had approached the Anambra State High Court to validate the primary election won by him and invalidate the other won by Ozigbo, claiming that the latter was in violation of PDP Constitution, the Electoral Act, and an order of the FCT High Court.
Ozigbo, being served with the claim of Uba in the Anambra High Court, had filed a defence and preliminary objection which are slated for hearing tomorrow at Awka before Ozigbo decided to file another suit before the Abuja High Court joining only INEC and PDP but excluded Uba and other gladiators. Ozigbo’s application for injunction was filed exparte, that is without putting the defendants and other interested parties on notice. It was meant to be a surprising masterstroke on the eve of the deadline for publication of the name of governorship candidates of the parties participating in the gubernatorial election.
The order of Justice Hamisu appears to be that of a blind effigy of Justice which cuts without discrimination as Ozigbo, who is the Applicant, and Uba, who is not even a party to Ozigbo’s suit and any other compromise candidate the PDP might be considering, have all been boxed into the same can and frozen by the order.
KAFTANPOST gathered that Ozigbo was compelled to take his own party to court when he got winds of attempts by PDP elders and bigwigs at Wadata Plaza to forge a compromise by commissioning an influential State Governor from the South South as an emissary to the godfather of Anambra politics, Chief Chris Uba, to sheath the sword and allow the party to bring a consensus candidate or nominate a Deputy from Anambra Central to pair with Ugochukwu Uba in order to avoid a repeat of a calamitous outing of PDP four years ago when the party chose a neophyte Obaze as its candidate and got walloped in 21 out of 21 LGAs in the state in favour of APGA, whose victory was largely traced to Chris Uba and majority of PDP stakeholders. Feelers are that the party is having a feeling of dejavu in view of the similarity between Valentine Ozigbo and Obaze, both of whom are protege of former APGA Governor of Anambra State, Mr Peter Obi, seen by many as a latter day PDP joiner.
This lawsuit, with its bizarre provenance and dramatic orders is seen by some as a sign that the Peter Obi-Valentine Ozigbo faction, though acclaimed as lightweight, are not shy to throw the gauntlet and ruin it all for the party rather than lose out in the race to November 6.
Legal experts, who spoke to KAFTANPOST in anonymity, opine almost uniformly that the goose of PDP is cooked in Anambra State and only a final judgment of the High Court or an order of an appellate court is capable of shifting the current impasse.
While Ozigbo’s legal gymnastics has ricocheted across the board, cutting the originator himself in the jugular, the case filed by Uba is moving at a snail speed bogged down by a barrage of applications and objections filed by Ozigbo, who moved to Abuja on the fast lane to obtain this double edged exparte order from the FCT High Court.
A call made to INEC Commissioner and spokesperson, Festus Okoye, remains unanswered as at press time.