Stella Oduah, Andy Uba, others challenge sack by Supreme Court

Stella Oduah

The Supreme Court on Friday removed Stella Oduah and Andy Uba of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as Senators representing Anambra State.

Oduah represented Anambra North Senatorial District while Uba represented Anambra South.

The apex court ruled that the list of nominated candidates in the last election from the Ejike Oguebego-led executive of Anambra State PDP was the only one to be recognised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

It therefore sacked Oduah and Uba and the 11 members of the House of Representatives representing Anambra.

The election of Uche Ekwunife of Anambra Central was nullified by the Court of Appeal in December.

She has since defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Delivering judgement, Justice Binta Ogunbiyi held that the lawmakers were illegally foisted on the PDP by an unrecognised state executive of the party.

Ogunbiyi held that the  Oguebego-led executive was the only constitutionally recognised leadership of the PDP to conduct the party’s primaries.

In December 2014, the Federal High Court had ruled that the Ejike Oguebego-led executive was the only constitutionally recognised leadership of the party in Anambra that could conduct the PDP primaries.

Despite that ruling, the parallel state executive of the PDP  went ahead to conduct parallel primaries.

INEC and the PDP National Working Committee (NWC) supervised the primaries conducted by Oguebego’s executive on December 6 and 7, 2014 . At the end of the exercise, the NWC of the PDP and INEC declared Chris Uba winner for Anambra South, Prince John Emeka for Anambra North and Annie Okonkwo for Anambra Central.

“The decision of the apex court is done to restore justice and discourage impunity in the polity. The judgement also lays out the proper procedures for selection of political parties’ legislative candidates,” Ogunbiyi held.

Chris Uba, who is Andy Uba’s younger brother and Prince John Emeka are expected to take over the seats vacated by Senator Uba and Oduah respectively.

Oduah however, declared, on Friday in Abuja, “a misinterpretation”, media reports which quoted a Supreme Court judgment to have sacked her and other federal lawmakers from Anambra.

In a statement issued by her spokesperson, Cynthia Ferdinand, Oduah said that the report in the media was misleading as the apex court did not order the withdrawal of her certificate of return.

She said that the judgement of the Supreme Court said that it was only the National Executive Council of a political party that had the legal right to sponsor candidates in an election.

Oduah, therefore, stressed that she and all the other lawmakers from Anambra state have not been sacked by the Supreme Court contrary to media reports.

‎“It is pertinent to note that this is a mere misinterpretation of the Supreme Court rulings and‎ should be disregarded in all entirety‎. “The Supreme Court did not order the withdrawal of the Certificates of Return issued by the Commission.

“It did not hold that the faction of the PDP had the right to sponsor candidates for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

“It did not equally authorise the Commission to substitute our clients with the individuals whose names were on the list improperly allowed by the Commission,

“Series of judgment of the Supreme Court of Nigeria states that it is only the National Executive of the party that has the vires to sponsor candidates,” she said.

Meanwhile, solicitors to the sacked lawmakers have written to INEC not to also fall into the folly of misunderstanding the judgment.

The letter signed by the lawmakers urged the Commission not to allow itself to be misled by its legal department just as it was initially misled to accepting the list presented by the state chapter of the party.

The lawmakers stressed that separate rulings of the Supreme Court including that of January 29, upheld that only the list submitted by the National Executive Committee was valid.

“This correspondence is aimed at setting the record straight so that your good self will not again be misled by your legal department into unjustifiably occasioning an unnecessary confusion in the process,” the letter read.

The letter also drew the attention of INEC to pages 4647 and 48 of the judgment of the Supreme Court to further buttress the point that the Court did not sack their clients.

The solicitors stated further that the apex court did not authorise the Commission to substitute the lawmakers’ names with the individuals whose names were on the list improperly allowed by the Commission.