The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been hit by another crisis following the defection of Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki from the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Obaseki, who is pushing for the ticket of the PDP to recontest for governor, has been rejected by two of the aspirants cleared to contest for the ticket before he was admitted into the PDP and granted a waiver. The governor was disqualified from contesting on APC platform.
The two aspirants, Kenneth Imasuagbon and Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, vowed not to step down for Obaseki in tomorrow’s primary.
On Tuesday, Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike accused some of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) members of unjust action and disrespecting the integrity of senior party members. He described them as “tax collectors”, threatening to expose them.
In a statement on his behalf by Commissioner for Information and Communication, Wike said he had pulled out of the reconciliation process in the Edo State chapter.
Wike said: “I told them that in Edo State, we must handle the issue carefully and carry everybody along. They must respect human beings and not behave like tax collectors.
“They said because an order was obtained from a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, then I am responsible.
“I have had sleepless nights to resolve the issue in Edo state. The Governors of Edo, Adamawa, and Delta states, know what I have done to resolve the issues in Edo state.
“As a result of this senseless accusation, I have pulled out of Edo State settlement. My integrity matters.
“I know the members of the National Working Committee of PDP who connived with a national newspaper. They are tax collectors. Let them challenge me and I will come out with more facts.
Nobody will rubbish me by raising false accusations against me. I will fight back”.
Wike said he would no longer participate in any reconciliation process in the state and wondered why the NWC wanted to consult governors.
He questioned why the NWC did not consult with governors in the Bayelsa State case.
The governor warned that if PDP was not careful, the crisis in the All Progressives Congress (APC) would be a child’s play.
“I am brought up not to accept injustice, and that is why I keep speaking out on national issues. Nobody in the PDP can intimidate Rivers State.
“Nobody can threaten me because I said things must be done constitutionally. I will always continue to satisfy my conscience.
“From now on, I want to concentrate on the development of Rivers State”, he added.
The Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on Tuesday restrained Governor Obaseki from participating in the PDP primary.
The court presided over by Justice E.A. Obile gave the order in pursuant to a motion exparte dated June 22 filed by one of the PDP governorship aspirants, Ogbeide-Ihama.
The suit listed the defendants as Prince Uche Secondus, Emmanuel Ogidi, Chief Debekeme Boyleyefa, Senator James Manager, Ajibola Muraina, PDP, Godwin Obaseki and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The court granted the prayers of the plaintiff restraining the PDP and its officials from allowing Obaseki, any member or non-member other than those that purchased forms and were screened within the time stated in the timetable to participate in the primary election rescheduled for tomorrow.
The judge said: “That order of interim injunction is granted restraining INEC from further recognising or accepting Obaseki or any other person as candidate of the PDP other than those name of the plaintiff or that of other applicants, who have already purchased nomination forms and were screened within the time stipulated in the PDP’s timetable for the nomination process for the 2020 governorship election in Edo State”.
The court further gave orders for substituted service on the defendants and accelerated hearing of the matter.
While also granting an abridged time within which the defendants could enter appearance and file their respective counter affidavits, the court adjourned the matter till today.
Also yesterday, a High Court in Ekpoma Judicial Division, Edo State has restrained the PDP, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and others, from removing, preventing or purporting to exclude Governor Obaseki or any of other aspirant who has been cleared by the party from participating in tomorrow’s primary.
The Judge, J. O. Okeaya-Inneh, ruling in a suit filed by Felix Irioh and Tom Irehobhude, said, “ I find in my humble view that the applicants have satisfied the guidelines for the grant of the orders sought as enjoined in the celebrated landmark case of Kotoye v CBN (1989), 1 NWLR PT. 98, 419 at 441.”
The judge added, “The balance of convenience is in favour of the 1st and 2nd applicants and there is no undue delay in bringing this application. It is in that light that I find merit in this application.”
The suit was initiated by Dr. Tony Aziegbemi, the PDP, Hon. Andy Ikhajiangbe, Peter Akhimien and INEC.
The applicants sought “an Order of Interim Injunction restraining INEC from however refusing to recognize and/or accept the name of any of the aspirants named in paragraph 2 above especially Mr. Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki as lawful aspirants having been lawfully screened and cleared by the 2nd Defendant to participate in the 2nd primary election scheduled to hold on the 25th June, 2020 in any report of the monitoring of the said primaries pending the hearing of the Motion On Notice.”
The judge adjourned the matter to July 1, to hear pending applications.
Aziegbemi, the PDP Edo State chairman, said the party’s governorship primary will hold today as scheduled.
He told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Benin, that “it is a family and we do not believe in legal issues to solve all our problems. We believe that we can sort out some of these problems through political means.
“And that is what we are doing at present. We are exploring both ways. Clearly, we will get this sorted out by Wednesday and we will have our primary on Thursday without any encumbrances.”