The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, may not participate in the September 10 governorship election in Edo State if the decision by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to await the final outcome of court cases on leadership tussle in the party, is anything to go by.
Two factions of PDP led by National Caretaker Committee Chairman, Ahmed Markafi and disputed National Chairman of the party, Ali Modu Sheriff, conducted separate primaries to pick candidates for the Edo guber poll.
While the Makarfi camp backed by all organs of the party, including the Governors’ Forum and the Board of Trustees, conducted its primary on June 20 in Benin and elected Osagie Ize-Iyamu as candidate, the Sheriff faction on June 29, conducted its own primary also in Benin, where Matthew Iduoriyekwemwen, emerged as flag bearer.
The Makarfi primary was witnessed by INEC as required by the Electoral Act but that conducted by Mr. Sheriff was not supervised by the commission.
The leadership crisis in the party was made worse by two separate court judgments giving credence to the Sheriff and Makarfi factions.
While Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja on June 30, affirmed Mr. Sheriff as the PDP National Chairman and ordered INEC to recognise any candidate presented by him, a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, presided over by Justice Abdullahi Liman, on July 4, held that the May 21 national convention that removed Sheriff as chairman and constituted the National Caretaker Committee was duly constituted.
Justice Liman also declared that the dissolution of the Sheriff-led National Working Committee and the National Executive Committee by that convention, was valid and the appointment of the Makarfi-led caretaker committee was legal and in line with the provisions of PDP Constitution.
Speaking on the conflicting court judgments, the Deputy Director, Voter Education and Publicity of INEC, Nick Dazang, said the commission was yet to take a position on which candidate it would accept from the two factions for the forthcoming Edo polls.
Insisting on final pronouncement of the court of the issue, Mr. Dazang said, “as at now we have not received the certified true copy of the July 4 judgment of a Federal high Court, Port Harcourt, on the matter.
“We are waiting for that judgment and other judgments so that we can study them.
“The commission, after studying the judgment and the advice from its lawyers, will then take a position, but we are still waiting for the last judgment which was the one on July 4.
“It will be like from next week by the time we receive them and when the commission sits, a position will be taken.
“It is when the commission has done that that it will then decide on any faction or candidate it is going to accept”.