Despite an order from a Federal High Court, Abuja, directing parties in the suit challenging the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ad-hoc delegates election in Akwa Ibom State to “maintain status quo antebellum”, the party on Sunday conducted its primaries using the said delegates.
Although the PDP filed an appeal, asking the Court of Appeal to vacate the order, the matter was not heard before the primaries.
The ruling party in the state Sunday (today) held primaries to elect its candidates for the 2023 House of Assembly and House of Representatives elections.
Aniekeme Finbarr, a media aide to Governor Udom Emmanuel, has published on his Facebook page the names of winners in 23 out of the 26 state constituencies, so far.
Mr Finbaar has also provided updates on the winners of the primaries for the 10 federal constituencies in the state.
The PDP had on April 30 held ward congress to elect three ad-hoc delegates that will vote in the party primaries.
Some members of the party, however, filed an application at the Federal High Court, Abuja, asking the court to set aside the results of the ward congress.
The applicants, who are mainly supporters of a serving senator and governorship aspirant in the state, Bassey Albert, said there was no election to choose the ad-hoc delegates in the state.
The court directed parties in the case to “maintain status quo antebellum” pending the hearing and determination of the suit.
Since the court gave the directive, several persons, including lawyers and non-lawyers, have given diverse definitions of the Latin phrase “status quo antebellum” as it affects the PDP primaries in the state.
Etefia Ekanem, an associate professor of law at the University of Uyo, told PREMIUM TIMES on Saturday that “status quo”, means “stay action the way it is” but “status quo antebellum”, means “stay action as it were before the beginning of war”.
“The issue (war) was the delegate election. It means stay action as it were before the delegate election.”
Human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, and another legal practitioner, Ekemini Udim, corroborated Mr Etefia’s argument.
Both lawyers said the implication of the court order is that the PDP should not use the ad-hoc delegate list for the party primaries in Akwa Ibom, pending the determination of the case.
Section 84(8) of the Electoral Act, 2022 appears to have compounded the confusion as it does not permit other categories of members of the party to vote at the primaries except the three ad-hoc delegates and one national delegate.
The legality of Sunday’s PDP primaries in Akwa Ibom State now rests on the decision of the court when the case comes up for hearing on May 25.
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