Speaking Legally On Governor Obaseki’s PDP Candidature!

By Nnamdi Obiaraeri, Ph.D July 7, 2020

Speaking Legally On Governor Obaseki’s PDP Candidature!

Given the heightened level of interest, political propaganda and misinformation in the oncoming Edo State governorship election, it has become important to enlighten the Nigerian public that the facts of the two scenarios involving Chief Uche Nwosu in the 2019 governorship election in Imo State and Governor Obaseki in the current 2020 APC gubernatorial primary election Edo election are not similar or analogous.

It will be warped analysis, illogical and non sequitur to assign the two developments in Imo State and Edo State involving Chief Uche Nwosu and Governor Obaseki respectively the same legal effect as some are erroneously doing following the decision of the Supreme Court in that Chief Uche Nwosu’s case.

Those into this red herring are unserious in law and fact although they may be entitled to indulge in media sensationalism and political irritation of their opponents.

Pointedly, Governor Obaseki is in good legal standing as PDP Gubernatorial candidate in Edo State in the oncoming September 2020 governorship election. 

Decided cases and legal jurisprudence are crystal clear that a dissatisfied party member like Governor Obaseki is at liberty to leave the former party (in this case APC) and go elsewhere to prosecute his political ambition (in this case PDP) provided he or she does so within and in a manner consistent with the Electoral Laws and INEC Guuidelines/Timelines for participation in the said election.

The facts of Governor Obaseki’s case are not the same or even analogous to that of Chief Uche Nwosu which the Supreme Court decided and these are why those thinking otherwise missed it-

1. Chief Uche Nwosu was screened and duly cleared by APC to contest as an aspirant in the 2018 Governorship primary election in Imo State.

On the contrary, Governor Obaseki was screened and expressly disqualified or not cleared by APC as an aspirant to contest in the Edo PDP Primary election.

2. Based on 1 above, Chief Uche Nwosu, as a duly cleared aspirant contested the APC governorship Primary.

On the contrary, Governor Obaseki was not cleared and did not contest the APC guber primary as he moved on to another party following 1 above and is now PDP gubernatorial candidate.

This is consistent with the right to freedom of association guaranteed in section 40 of the 1999 Constitution as amended which includes the right to dissociate.

3. Chief Uche Nwosu averred that he was denied his victory in the APC governorship Primary and he went to court to enforce his right and said victory. He swore affidavits and deposed that he won the 2018 APC governorship primary and that the Court should stop APC from fielding anyone else other than himself as the APC Governorship candidate in Imo. Chief Uche Nwosu eventually left APC and participated in the said 2019 governorship election as a candidate under the platform of AA.

On the contrary, Governor Obaseki-

(i) did NOT participate in the APC Primary;

(ii) did not appeal his supposed disqualification to APC Appeal Committee;

(iii) did not appeal to or petition APC NWC over the disqualification; and

 (iv) did not go to court against APC over anything including his purported disqualification.

The above are the clear and indubitable facts and reasons why it is logically idle and legally untenable to equate what the Supreme Court decided over Chief Uche Nwosu’s 2018/2019 governorship aspiration and candidature in Imo State which began in APC and ended in AA with Governor Obaseki’s current governorship aspiration.

Succinctly stated, the time at which Governor Obaseki left APC to join PDP (before the APC primary election) is different from the time Chief Uche Nwosu left APC for AA (after participating in the APC Primary election).

The decision of the Supreme Court in Chief Uche Nwosu’s case did not foreclose the constitutional right of an aggrieved member from leaving the party to contest on the platform of another political party.

Political party membership is not death sentence.

Political mobility is legit and constitutional.

In the case of APC V LERE (2020) 1 NWLR (Pt. 1705) 254, the Supreme Court restated the absolute right of a political party to choose who can fly its flag in an election and emphatically stated that “a dissatisfied member’s remedy is to leave the party and seek his political ambitions somewhere else.”

This is the law and nothing more pretentious.

Conclusively, Governor Obaseki’s PDP candidature is in good legal standing.

Politics, political campaigns and associated fatuous comments are not one and the same with recondite legal positions and settled decisions of the courts.