An aspirant in the just concluded primary elections under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party for the position of House of Representatives, in Edo State, Elabor Joseph Agbebaku (EJ) has approached a Federal High Court in Benin to challenge the legality of not allowing most of the State Congress delegates (statutory delegates) to vote in the House of Representatives primary election which he contested.
The main issue for determination in the suit is “Whether Section 84(8) of the Electoral Act 2022 (As Amended) does not make it mandatory for the 1st Defendant (Peoples Democratic Party) to adhere to its constitution and guidelines in the conduct of primary election?”
According to the applicant (Elabor Joe):
“After the passing of the Electoral Act 2022 (As Amended), the party released guidelines for the conduct of primary elections in line with Section 84 of the Act, and thereafter opened window for sale and purchase of forms for various positions. It would be worthy to note that subsection 8 of section 84 of the Act mandated parties to set guidelines and procedure for conduct of primaries.
The party stated clearly in the said guidelines the mode of selection of delegates to vote in the primaries for various positions. For House of Representatives position which I contested , the party guideline stated that the delegates to vote in the primary election shall be the delegates in the State Congress of the party, while Section 25 (1) of the Party Constitution listed delegates for State Congress.
After the purchase of forms, aside the ad hoc delegates who were yet to be revealed as at then, we started moving around the delegates across all the wards in our Constituency, presenting our visions, plans and motives with respect to our aspiration.
However, few hours before the primary election, the party announced that only ad hoc delegates (which were unveiled barely few hours before then) would be eligible to vote in the primary elections.
Most of these ad hoc delegates we didn’t even get know or meet until the Election day.
We hold that this act is a shortchange which is inconsistent with the relevant provisions of the laws and the party guidelines for primary elections which shouldn’t go unquestioned. It is like changing the goalpost in the middle of game.
Recall that the party had earlier conducted a primary election in Osun State for the Governorship election in line with the amended Electoral Act, whereby statutory delegates voted and no question was raised about it.
We seek for the interpretation of the Court in this regard. This action is not targeted against anyone’s personal interest but to set the record straight.
I am a lawyer, and part of my duty is to uphold justice, equity and fairness always, and that is what I am doing right now.
Laws are like raw materials, it becomes a finished product only after it has been tested in Court.”
The suit which was filed by EJ’s lawyer on Wednesday June 1st, 2022, was assigned with Suit number: FHC/B/Cs/55/2022, and would be slated for hearing in a later date.
Interesting days ahead.