…No victor, no vanquished, says governor
…Party chair, Aziegbemi, calls for closing of ranks

The Supreme Court of Nigeria on Wednesday recognised candidates who emerged from the primaries conducted by a faction of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State led by the state governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, as the party’s authentic candidates in the February 25 and March 11, 2023 elections.

It had been a long-drawn battle between a PDP faction in the state led by Governor Obaseki and another, Legacy Group, led by PDP National Vice Chairman (South-South), Chief Dan Orbih, over who controls the PDP in the state.

The crux of the matter has been who has the power to conduct the primary election for the selection of party flag bearers for the National Assembly and State House of Assembly elections slated for February 25 and March 11 this year.

A Federal High Court in Abuja had in May last year ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to recognise the candidates of the Chief Orbih-led faction as authentic candidates of the PDP in the 2023 elections, while a Federal High Court in Benin City had ordered INEC to recognise and publish the names of candidates produced by Obaseki’s faction as the party’s candidates.

The matter then proceeded to the Supreme Court.

The apex court, delivering judgment in an appeal filed by Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama and others against Mathew Iduoriyekemwen and others, Wednesday, held that the case was faulty as it did not emanate from the judgment of the appellate court.

In the judgment delivered by Justice Centus Nweze, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal on the grounds of incompetence, holding that an appeal must be based on issues contended at the lower court to qualify for review.

“Any ground of appeal that does not challenge issues raised at the lower court is incompetent. I enter judgment in favour of the respondents,” said Justice Nweze.

Reacting to the judgment, Governor Obaseki said it had finally put to rest the long-drawn legal tussle over the candidates that would fly the flag of the PDP in Edo State in the general election on February 25 and March 11, 2023.

He called on members of the PDP in the state to unite and work for the greater victory ahead.

“As the leader of the party in the state, I implore all members to consider this development as the end of all strife within the Edo PDP and to note that this is a victory for all members. Our resolve now is to win the forthcoming general elections as this experience has made us stronger and better prepared to clinch victory,” Obaseki said in a statement on Wednesday.

“This disagreement which has now been amicably resolved attests to the maturity of actors who as law-abiding party members have subjected themselves to and accepted the verdict of the courts.

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“As there are no victors or vanquished in this issue, I want to call on all members of our party to come together to speak with one voice against the real opponents since our party is big enough to accommodate our various interests.

“The ongoing crisis in our nation which has been choreographed by the All Progressives Congress is subjecting Nigerians to perhaps the most tortuous living conditions in our history since the Civil War between 1967 and 1970. Our efforts must now be directed to removing the APC from power and restoring our blessed country.

“I, therefore, call on all our members in Edo State to stand up and be counted among the brave party men and women who stood to be counted in the execution of this all-important task to rescue Nigeria and pull it back from the precipice,” he said.

The Edo State PDP chairman, Chris Aziegbemi, in his reaction called on the party members in the state to close ranks with their eyes set on victory in the coming elections.

“The journey to the Supreme Court by brothers, sisters and friends of the Peoples Democratic Party in Edo State is not as a result of crisis but a quest by active interests to test the strength of law and our democracy,” Aziegbemi said.

“The result of the judgment has now helped to grow our democracy and will subsequently become a reference as well as a guide to all political parties and politicians alike,” he said.

The state party chairman said both factions in the matter have learnt their collective lessons and are now more propelled to work as a team and a strong party.

“I want to say categorically that there was never a crisis in the party but mere interpretation of certain modalities and procedures which has become clearer to all of us now,” the chairman said.

He appreciated all members of the PDP nationwide and, most importantly, in Edo State for their understanding during the period, calling on them to close ranks.

“This call is now mandatory. The party belongs to all of us and we are all co-stakeholders in the success of the party. I call on all of us to queue behind our leader, Governor Godwin Obaseki, who has in just two years in the PDP demonstrated capacity to deliver the dividends of democracy to our people,” Aziegbemi said.

“Let us all now re-dedicate ourselves to the growth and victory of the party in the forthcoming elections. We have to work extra hard to deliver all our candidates. That is what we do in PDP,” he said.