By Sunday Nnamani
It is no longer news that on the 9th day of November, 2022, an Abuja federal high court presided over by Justice Evelyn Maha, nullified the purported Labour Party governorship primary that fraudulently produced one Mr. Chijioke Edeoga on 4th August 2022 and ordered a fresh primary within 14 days.
Delivering judgement on suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/1422/2022, in an application brought by Aviation guru and foremost entrepreneur, the Chairman of OAS Group and Labour Party consensus candidate designate for Enugu governorship poll, Captain Evarest Nnaji, against the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC), and the Labour Party, 1st and 2nd respondents respectively, justice Maha ruled inter alia :
“….. In the light of the foregoing, I find and hold that no primary election for the 2nd defendant’s gubernatorial candidate in Enugu state was held on 4th August 2022 or on any other day at all. Moreso, if such an election existed, I find that same would still be illegal, unconstitutional, and null and void, having failed to comply with the provision of the law. In the light of the above, the 2nd defendant is therefore ordered to conduct a fresh gubernatorial primary in Enugu state within a period of 14 days from the date of this order”
Besides ego and face saving against the embarrassment his ill-advised stunts and manipulations are now causing him and his misled supporters , nothing else would explain how Chijioke Edoga still parade himself as Labour Party governorship candidate, in flagrant violation and contempt of a subsisting court order. The party’s National secretary was unequivocal when he recently cleared the air while stating that Mr. Edoga or anyone who did not emerge through legal means was not the party’s Enugu state governorship candidate as they are bound by the High court ruling.
Beyond the courts nullification of the so-called primary and ordering a fresh primary, the curious aspect of the Court judgement is in the the exposition that the said Mr. Chijioke Edeoga who has been claiming to be the gubernatorial candidate of the Labour Party, was not recognized or joined as a party in the suit neither was he recognized as an aspirant. Interestingly, in the certified true copy of the court judgement, the learned judge clearly stated:
“In this case, there is nothing before the court to show that any other person aside the plaintiff (Evarest Nnaji) paid for and obtained the expression of interest and nomination forms or was issued INEC nomination form to be the Enugu state gubernatorial candidate of the 2nd defendant”.
I like to assume the above excerpt from the court judgement is clear enough but in the event that further explanations are necessary, what the court is simply saying is that the only person that has shown proof of paying for and obtaining Labour Party’s expression of interest and nomination forms or was issued INEC nomination form to be the Enugu state governorship candidate of the Labour Party is captain Everest Nnaji. In otherwords, as it stands today and by legal implications, if Labour Party were to conduct a fresh primary election as ordered by the court, Mr. Chijioke Edeoga does not qualify to be in the contest. Recall he also participated in the PDP governorship primaries where he got a paltry 9 votes, he also appear to be legally barred from running under Labour. This may be partly why he did not apply to be joined in the matter but preferred to hide behind an unknown and obscure political party to delay and frustrate the litigation process.
Now here are a few facts from the court judgement:
As it stands today, not only is Edeoga not the Labour Party Enugu governorship candidate, his failure to apply to be joined as an interested party in the suit at the high court technically shuts him out from taking any action such as filing an appeal now that judgement has been delivered. Only Labour Party can appeal the case, and they have done so.
Edeoga, having realized that Labour Party cannot really make any additional case for him at the appeal court, also realizing that Appeal Court could only hear what has been presented and argued at the High Court, decided to seek the Leave of the Court to Appeal or to be joined. Unfortunately for him, he sought that outside the 14 days window period given by of the Abuja federal high court, hence, statute barred. Edeoga now stand outside of the case bound. He has lost completely the position to be heard separately in the case. He had the opportunity to be joined during the High Court proceedings, but chose naively to sponsor another inconsequential and unknown Political Party to join the case, in other to delay the proceedings at the High Court. That Party was reprimanded at High Court, and they quickly withdrew from the case. Edeoga didn’t see that having himself join the case would have served him better. He is now wiser, but short of breath.
The bigger question is;
Why is Labour Party wasting scarce resources appealing the court judgement instead of simply obeying it? One would have thought that the party would have seen the judgement as a second chance to do the right thing and tow the path of justice, fairness and equity and above all, honour the conventional principle of zoning which every Enugu indigene hold in great respect .
How could it be at a time when all the visible political parties in Enugu state, including, APGA, APC and even the ruling PDP in the state, with their culture of impunity and unmitigated arrogance, refused to compromise the existing zoning arrangement and zoned their governorship tickets to Nkanuland, that The Labour Party, a party whose emerging popularity, is driven from the general perception, that it was built on the principles of equity,justice and fairness, would elect to truncate a zoning mechanism that has fostered peace among the people of Enugu state, by allowing a man being promoted by a moribund political dynasty, one that also promote the Presidential candidacy of Atiku Abubakar, to even indicate interest to run under the Labour party flagship?
These are internal contradictions the Labour Party must avoid to be associated with.