Reprieve finally came the way of Senators Andy Uba (PDP, Anambra South) and Stella Oduah (PDP, Anambra North) as well as seven members of the House of Representatives from the state, as a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, yesterday, granted an injunction restraining the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Clerk of the National Assembly from withdrawing their Certificates of Return.
The court also retrained INEC from issuing Certificates of Return to any persons other than the plaintiffs as well as swearing in any persons as winners of the 2015 general election into the National Assembly.
The order was granted by presiding Judge, Justice Gabriel Kolawole after listening to the motion exparte of the plaintiffs’ counsels filed by Chief Arthur Obi Okafor, SAN and Vincent Ottaokpukpu.
Attempt by counsel‎ to Chief Ejike Oguebego who the apex court recognised as the PDP-led exco in Anambra state, Chief Chris Uche, SAN to stop the court failed as he urged the Judge not to grant the order because INEC has written to the Supreme Court for some clarifications on the judgement.
Justice Kolawole ordered that the order will last as well as the pending applications, pending the interpretation of the judgement by the apex court.
The plaintiffs in the suit are; Senator Andy Uba, Senator Stella Oduah, Hon. Anayo Nnebo, Hon. Ukeria Azodo, Hon. Chris Azubogu, Hon. Lynda Ikpeazu, Hon. Tony Nwoye, Hon. Obinna Chidoka and Hon. Chukwuma Ony‎ema, respectively.
The trial Judge also ordered that the status quo should be maintained and adjourned the matter indefinitely.
After about four years of legal action, the Anambra State Executive Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, led by Mr. Ejike Oguebego two weeks ago, was restored by the Supreme Court.
The Oguebego committee was on March 7, 2012 elected into office in an election monitored by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
The leadership was however dissolved the same month by the National Working Committee of the party following an alleged factionalisation.
Following a legal action instituted by the Oguebego-led committee to challenge the dissolution, a Federal High Court on September 12, 2013 ordered the PDP National Secretariat to give recognition to the plaintiff in the suit pending the completion of the case.
However, in flagrant disobedience to the court order, the PDP national body reportedly set up a caretaker committee to run the affairs of the party in the state.
The Court of Appeal, Abuja Division had in its judgment upheld the constitution of the caretaker committee by the PDP National Secretariat.
However, in the appeal case filed at the Supreme Court, the Oguebego committee prayed the apex court to reverse the court of appeal judgment and restore the appellant back to office.
In a unanimous judgment delivered by Justice John Inyang Okoro, the apex court set aside the decision of the Court of Appeal, and restore the Ejike Oguebego-led executive committee as the authentic body to run the affairs of PDP in Anambra State.
Justice Okoro, who delivered the lead judgment, held that PDP was wrong in constituting a caretaker committee for Anambra State in the face of a Federal High Court order that the party give recognition to the Executive Committee whose election was legally monitored and recognized by INEC.
The Supreme Court held that the Appeal Court arrived at a poor conclusion and poor appreciation of the case of the Oguebego-led committee, adding that what the Oguebego committee challenged was whether PDP can dissolve the Anambra Committee the way it did and not on which side has power to conduct a primary election for the purpose of nominating candidates for general election.
“The issue before the Federal High Court was whether the PDP can rubbish the judgment and order of the court for whatever reason and setup a caretaker committee during the pendency of a court action, other claims notwithstanding.
“For me, I strongly hold the view that there is no dispute on the relevant and essential facts granting the claims of the Oguebego which relate to the determination and interpretation of the action of the PDP on Anambra leadership in setting up a caretaker committee for the state when there is an order of the court against doing so.
“Having resolved all the five issues in favour of the appellants, (Oguebego) I hold that there is merit in this appeal which is hereby allowed.
“The judgment of the Court of Appeal is hereby set aside. The order of the Federal High Court in Suit No FHC/PH/CS/213/2013 recognizing the Ejike Oguebego-led executive committee of the Peoples Democratic Party, Anambra State chapter is still subsisting until it is set aside by an order of court,” Justice Okoro said.
The Supreme Court awarded a cost of N100, 000 against PDP and one Chukwudi Okasia, who were the first and third respondents in the case.