All is set for Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, to pursue his governorship ambition under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as a Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, yesterday cleared him to contest the party’s primaries billed to hold today.
Over 2229 PDP delegates will today converge on the newly renovated Samuel Ogbemudia stadium in Benin City, the Edo state capital, to elect their candidate for the September 19 governorship election.
Justice Emmanuel Obile, who sat over a suit seeking to disqualify Obaseki, struck out the suit filed by another PDP governorship aspirant, Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama.
Ogbeide-Ihama had on Tuesday obtained a restraining court order from a Porthacourt preventing Obaseki from contesting the today’s primary.
Also joined in the suit was former Edo State PDP chairman, Dan Orbih.
Barely 48 hours after the order on Obaseki, another High court in Ekpoma, Esan Central local government area of Edo State vacated the restraining order excluding the governor.
The matter was struck out following an out-of-court settlement between Ogbeide-Ihama and PDP national leadership.
Meanwhile, the PDP primary today would likely to be a straight contest between Obaseki and Barrister Ken Imansuagbon, following speculations that Ogbeide Ihama may have withdrawn from the race.
On Tuesday, another aspirant, Engineer Gideon Ikhine, had at a press conference, stepped down his ambition for Obaseki.
But in a statement yesterday, Imasuagbon said contrary to reports, he has not withdrawn from the race.
In the statement he personally signed and made available to journalists in Benin, Imasuagbon debunked the rumour that he accepted $2million from the governor to step down for him.
The Abuja-based educationist stressed that he was in the governorship race to win and not to make up the number of aspirants for the PDP ticket.
He noted that the rumour of him accepting $2 million from the governor was being spread from his (Obaseki‘s) camp to sway the votes of delegates in his favour.
He said, „The governor knows am popular with the delegates and he is doing everything possible to change this.
“For the sake of emphasis, I have not and will not consider accepting any money for me to step down from the rave for the PDP ticket.
“I also understand that they are trying to manipulate the delegate list to their favour. I want to warn that if they try it, we will do everything possible to resist it and we shall meet in the court of law”.
Meanwhile, before striking out the case seeking to disqualify Obaseki from the primaries, Justice Obile of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt, stood down the matter for three hours, after counsel to the plaintiff prayed the court to grant the parties four hours to conclude meeting on reconciliatory moves by PDP leaders.
Dan Orbih informed the court that the process of out-of-court settlement had commenced within the party and expressed hope that within the period they would report back to the court.
Justice Obile granted the prayers of the plaintiff‘s counsel to enable the parties resolve their terms of settlement.
Obile, who had frowned at the four-hours stand down, ordered parties in the suit to document the terms of settlement within three hours and inform the court.
When the Court resumed at exactly 2:00pm, one hour and 30 minutes behind the scheduled resumption time, lead counsel to the plaintiff, Donald Den-Nwigwe, informed the Court of their intention to withdraw the suit following the settlement of the matter by PDP leaders.
Speaking with newsmen outside the court, PDP national legal adviser, Emmanuel Enoidem, said the withdrawal of the suit follows the resolution of the matter that led to the legal action.
Counsel to the 1st defendant and PDP national chairman, Uche Secondus and six other defendants, Emmanuel Enoidem, Counsel for the 2nd defendant, Higher King, and that of the 8th and 9th defendants, Alex Ejesiema and M. E. Ani, concurred with the request.
However, Justice Obile granted the prayers of Dan Orbih to enable the parties resolve their terms of settlement.
Barely hours after the out-of-Court settlement was achieved, the PDP National Working Committee (NWC) announced the dissolved the South South Zonal Committee of the party.
The party, in a statement signed by the national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, announced that a new Caretaker Committee has been formed.
Although the membership of the new caretaker committee is yet to be named, the statement said, “The action of the NWC is pursuant to Sections 29 (2) (b) and 31(2)(e) of the PDP Constitution (2017 as amended).
“The newly constituted South South Zonal Caretaker Committee which is chaired by Chief Dan Orbi, is to pilot the affairs of the party in the South South Zone for a period not exceeding three months (90) days as prescribed by section 32(2)(e) of the PDP Constitution.
“The NWC enjoins all members of our great party in the South South zone to continue to work harmoniously especially as the party works with the people of Edo state for a successful governorship election in September.”
However, Orbih and Ogbeide- Ihama yesterday visited Obaseki at the Edo State Government House to formally pledge support their support to him.
PDP In Dilemma Over Ondo Dep Gov’s Ambition
Meanwhile, there are concerns within the PDP over the eligibility of fielding deputy governor of Ondo State, Agboola Ajayi, as its candidate in the governorship election billed for October 10, 2020.
This is coming just as events in the aftermath of his defection have compelled the NWC to reconsider its initial disposition towards acceding to Ajayi‘s sole candidacy.
A national PDP officer who confided in LEADERSHIP said, „All those stories you hear about nine or ninety lawmakers were not really good enough for the man (Ajayi). You can join a party without telling stories to make up for your personality or popularity.
It was quite embarrassing that the national chairman asked the whereabouts of the lawmakers and the cabinet members the deputy governor had told him would defect on Monday.
“The national chairman called some of us to express his disappointment over the issue we felt vindicated that he now knows the truth. I think they now have a different view of the whole situation in Abuja.
“Besides, the national legal department called someone yesterday to intimate us about issues in respect of the deputy governor‘s certificates. Whether or not they may want to take the risk of fielding anyone with the possibility of the Bayelsa scenario is left for them to decide but honestly, they are now more confused than before“.
However, Ajayi is said to have perfected plans to commence legal action to forestall his possible impeachment by the State House of Assembly.
Barring the unforeseen, the State Assembly, the Nigeria Police Force, Department of State Services as well as the State Chief Judge may be served with the necessary court processes latest on Tuesday next week, LEADERSHIP learnt.
The delay till next week, it was gathered, is linked with the options being weighed by Ajayi who is said to have insisted on filing the court process outside Akure, the Ondo State capital.
This development comes on the heels of unconfirmed reports that the Ondo State House of Assembly has been allegedly induced by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu to commence impeachment proceedings against his deputy who dumped the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the opposition PDP last week.
In a related development, a group, Ondo State Integrity Movement (OSIM) has alleged that the deputy governor‘s insistence to remain in office after dumping APC is a security threat to the governor.
OSIM, in a statement issued and signed by its coordinator, Comrade Lateef Adesina Agbede, said there was more to mere allusion to constitutional provisions by Ajayi.
It stated: „The most honourable thing is for him to resign his position as deputy governor because what you didn‘t find pleasant in the APC you cannot find in an APC government.
“Our fear is that Ajayi is merely alluding to constitutional provisions to stay put to cause crisis and possibly harm Governor Akeredolu after his failed attempts to grab the east of Governor through the back doors last year. Nothing must happen to Aketi”.