PDP vs Igwe Okey: Only governorship candidates can determine running mates – Supreme Court


The Supreme Court in Abuja on Friday clarified that it is only a nominated governorship candidate of a political party that has the prerogative to determine who becomes the party’s deputy governorship candidate.

The Apex Court made the pronouncement in a judgment delivered on Friday in an appeal filed by a former deputy governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Abia State, Igwe Phillip Okey.

Okey had, in the appeal marked: SC/CV/919/2023, sought to set aside the August 31 judgment of the Court of Appeal in Abuja, which affirmed the July 3 judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja dismissing his suit seeking to compel the PDP to retain him as its deputy governorship candidate for the last election.

In the lead judgment written by Justice Uwani Abba-Aji but read on Friday by Justice Emmanuel Agim, the Apex Court determined the sole question identified for resolution against Okey.

The Supreme Court held that the Justices of the Court of Appeal were right to have held that by the provision of Section 187(1) of the Constitution, it is the constitutional right of the governorship candidate to nominate his/her deputy governorship candidate.

It added that the right to appoint a deputy governorship candidate is personal to the governorship candidate.

The Apex Court noted that if a governorship candidate dies, the nomination of the deputy governorship candidate dies with such a dead governorship candidate.

It added: “You cannot impose the deputy governorship candidate chosen by the dead candidate on the new governorship candidate,” the apex court said.

It described the case by Okey as a wild goose chase and affirmed the August 31 judgment of the Court of Appeal; dismissing the appeal. It further awarded N200,000 cost against the appellant.

Preparatory to the 2023 governorship election, the PDP conducted its primary on May 25, 2022, from which Prof. Uchenna Ikonne emerged as the party’s governorship candidate.

Professor Ikonne proceeded to nominate Okey as the party’s deputy governorship candidate for the election.

But, on January 25, 2023, before the election, Professor Ikonne died, prompting the PDP to conduct a fresh primary on February 4, where Ambrose Ahiwe was nominated as the party’s new governorship candidate.

Upon his nomination, Ahiwe chose Chukwudiebube Jasper Uche as his running mate, a decision Okey challenged in a suit he filed before the Federal High Court in Abuja.

In its judgment on July 3, the Federal High Court held among others that the suit was without merit and dismissed it, a decision Okey appealed to the Court of Appeal.

In a judgment on August 31, the Court of Appeal affirmed the earlier decision of the Federal High Court and proceeded to dismiss Okey’s appeal and awarded N500,000 cost against him, a decision he, again, appealed to the Supreme Court.

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