By Valentine Ayika, Esq
THE LAWS REGULATING PRIMARY ELECTIONS
Elections, both primary and general, in Nigeria are regulated, majorly, by the 1999 Constitution and the Electoral Act 2010. The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, is the body Constitutionally empowered to organise and supervise general elections. The body is also vested with powers to monitor political party congresses/primaries.
By section 87 (2) of the Electoral Act 2010, the procedure for the nomination of candidates by political parties for various elective positions shall be either by direct or indirect primaries. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), by its Constitution adopted the indirect primaries which implies that only a selected few, in form of an electoral college, votes to nominate the party’s candidates.This electoral college is comprised of the state and Local Government officers, 5 principal officers in each of the 326 wards, 3 adhoc delegates elected at a congress from each of the wards in the state and the automatic delegates.
The automatic or super delegates are members of the party that are occupying or that have occupied certain elective positions in the party or at the state or national levels.
For Anambra State the state, Local Government and the 5 principal officers were part of the ward executives elected during the party’s congresses in 2017. Since then there has been lots of litigations challenging the outcome of the congresses which has given rise to factions within the state chapter of the party.
The battle for legitimacy by the different factions necessitated the institution of various suits at different courts which unfortunately have given numerous conflicting judgments on the matter. It is on record that there are 4 judgments on the same subject matter by 4 different courts of coordinate jurisdictions. The recently elected adhoc delegates for the governorship primary election got entangled in the controversy as the actors in the processes that led to their emergence may have been affected by any of the judgments.
Worthy of mention at this stage is that by certain provisions of our Constitution, electoral laws and guidelines for general elections some activities in the chain of events that leads up to the general election are time bound in that specified periods for certain activities or deadlines for particular stages of the election processes must be complied with.
For example the INEC guidelines for the 2021 Anambra Governorship election the prescribed for 1st July, 2021 as the last day for primary election while the last day for submission of names and particulars of candidates by political parties is 9th July, 2021. Any omission or noncompliance with any of these dates disqualifies the political party from fielding a candidate in the election.
THE PARTY’S ENABLING LAW PDP had notified INEC of its intention to conduct primary election on the 26th June, 2021 with statutory and adhoc delegates as contained in its Constitution but confronted with the conflicting court judgments, their far and near implications coupled with the unchangeable deadlines within which the party must conduct its primary election and submit the particulars of its candidate, the party was left with limited options.
Among the few options was the dissolution of the executive committee, discarding of the use of the adhoc delegates the two groups haven been affected one way or another by the said conflicting judgments. In the midst of the dilemma the party invoked section 31 of its Constitution which allows it to use automatic delegates as a last resort.
INCITEMENT OF THE DELEGATES
THE WAY FORWARD
Hon. Valentine Ayika, Esq.