The Supreme Court has ruled that candidates who emerged via the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led faction are the authentic flag bearers of the Peoples Democratic Party in Edo State.
Justice Centus Nweze delivered the judgement on Wednesday, ending the long-drawn legal battle of supremacy between the governor and the faction backed by Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers.
Delivering the judgement in the appeal filed by Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama and others against Mathew Iduoriyekemwen and others, the apex court held that the case of the appellant was faulty as it did not emanate from the judgement of the appellate court.
The court in its judgement dismissed the appeal on the grounds that it was incompetent.
The judgement set aside the judgement of the Appeal Court which was in favour of candidates belonging to the Legacy Group of the PDP in Edo State led by the National Vice Chairman of the party, Dan Orbih.
Mr Orbih, a National Vice Chairman, South-South, of the party, is a strong ally of Mr Wike.
The judge held that an appeal must be based on issues contended at the lower court to qualify for review.
“Any ground of appeal that does not challenge issues raised at the lower court is incompetent.
I enter judgement in favour of the respondents,” the apex court held.
The judgement which arose from a consolidation of all cases relating to the leadership tussle has put to rest anxiety as to the right persons to represent the party in the elections.
The battle for control of the PDP apparatus in Edo state between Messrs Obaseki and Orbih took a different dimension when the two groups presented two different lists of aspirants to INEC following parallel primaries conducted by the two factions.
The crux of the matter is who has the power in the primary election for the selection of party flag bearers for the National Assembly and State House of Assembly elections slated for February 25 and March 11, this year.
Wednesday’s unanimous decision by the supreme court, therefore, means the candidates who emerged from the ward up to the national primaries conducted by the Obaseki faction of the Edo PDP will be fielded for elective positions.
Both Messrs Obaseki and Orbih have been locked in a leadership battle for the soul of the party in Edo State.
The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court had in May last year recognised Mr Orbih’s faction as the authentic candidates, another in Benin City, gave recognition to Mr Obaseki’s faction.
Both also appealed the judgement of the trial court entered against them at the Court of Appeal.
Speaking with reporters shortly after the judgement was delivered, Philip Shaibu, the deputy governor of the state who was in court to witness the proceedings, expressed joy that the matter has been finally put to rest.
He called on all PDP members to close ranks to deliver for the party in all the elections, stating that there was no winner or loser as the victory was for the PDP.
Mr Shuaibu urged aggrieved parties to embrace peace and said that the umbrella is now widened to accommodate all.