Court Hears Suit To Stop Governor Diri From Running For Second Term

#NigeriaDecides: Gov Diri Sends Important Message To Bayelsa People As Election Begins

A Federal High Court, Abuja is set to hear a fresh suit seeking the disqualification of Governor Douye Diri and his deputy, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo.

The suit, presently before Justice Emeka Nwite, seeks an order of mandatory injunction, directing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to remove the names of Diri and Ewhrudjakpo as People Democratic Party’s candidates in the Nov. 11 poll.

It also sought an order of perpetual injunction restraining INEC, its agents, privies or whosoever called, from further publishing their names as standard bearers for the party in the forthcoming election in Bayelsa.

The suit, marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1448/23 and filed by a Bayelsan woman, Blessing Clement Azibanagbal, through her lawyer, Ifeanyi Nsowu, further sought a declaration that Ewhrudjakpo was not qualified to run as deputy governor under the PDP.

Azibanagbal, in the originating summons dated Oct. 26 and filed on Oct. 30, sought a declaration that Ewhrudjakpo was also not qualified to be a running mate with Diri.

Besides, she prayed for the court to declare that Ewhrudjakpo had multiple names without any evidence to prove “that he is the same person.”

She, therefore, urged the court to declare that the PDP had no candidate in the poll.

The suit, which was brought under Rule 3, Order 9 of the FHC Civil Procedure Rules, 2019, sought “a declaration that the 3rd defendant (PDP) does not have any qualified candidate to run for the governorship election in Bayelsa.”

Governor Diri, Ewhrudjakpo, PDP and INEC are 1st to 4th defendants respectively in the matter

Raising five issues for determination, Azibanagbal asked whether a first school living certificate holder can run for the governorship election of a state in line with the provision of the 1999 Constitution.

It reads, “Whether the failure of the 1st (Diri); and 3rd defendants (PDP) to provide a candidate that has the qualification to run for the governorship of a state can be a ground to disqualify both candidates.

“Whether a candidate with multiple names without any evidence to substantiate the names can contest for governorship election in a state.

“Whether the 2nd defendant (Ewhrudjakpo), submitting only his first school living certificate in his Form EC9 submitted with INEC qualifies him to contest election as deputy governor of Bayelsa State.

“Considering issues 1 to 4 above, whether this honourable ¢court has jurisdiction to order the 4th defendant to remove the names of 1st and 2nd defendants as candidates in the forthcoming governorship election in Bayelsa State.”

In the affidavit in support of the originating summons deposed to by Yenle Istifanus, a litigation secretary with Compendium Chambers, the lawyer said she knew as a fact that Azibanagbal, who hails from Bayelsa and as a good citizen of Nigeria, had the locus standi (legal right) to institute the action.

She said though Diri and Ewhrudjakpo submitted their Form EC9 in INEC which empowered them to contest in the poll, Istifanus said this must be strictly in line with a constitutional provision for qualifications for a person to run for the office of a governor and deputy governor of a state.

The lawyer, who averred that failure to comply with the said qualification amounted to disqualification of the said candidate, stated that all the documents submitted by Ewhrudjakpo “bear different names with no substantial evidence to substantiate that he is the same person in the said documents.”

It read, “That I know as a fact that failure of the 2nd defendant to produce documents that bear the same names disqualifies him to contest as a deputy governor of a state.”

She said it would be in the interest of justice to grant the application as the defendants would not be prejudiced.

Nwosu, in an ex-parte motion seeking a leave to serve Diri and Ewhrudjakpo at the Government House in Bayelsa, through courier service, moved the application on Friday.

The suit, which was the only matter in the Friday’s cause list, was heard at the judge’s chamber.

Justice Nwite granted the prayer and adjourned the matter until Nov. 30 for a hearing.

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