A governorship aspirant of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Ondo State, Jimoh Ibrahim has suffered a set-back in his bid to have the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) accept him as the actual candidate of the party for the forthcoming gubernatorial election in the state.
Ibrahim was reported to have emerged as the winner of the Ondo governorship primary conducted on Monday in Ibadan, Oyo State, by the Ali Modu Sheriff faction of the PDP.
Ibrahim is, by the substantive suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/591/2019, seeking to among others, restrain the Makarfi faction of the PDP from organizing primary and presenting a candidate for the party in the governorship election slated for November.
Ibrahim instituted the suit in his name and PDP, with Mkarfi, Ben Obi, Odion Ugbesia, Abdul Ningi, Karibu Usman, Dayo Adeyeye, Alhaja Aisha Aliyu and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as defendants.
He hinged his prayer on a purported subsisting order of the court made in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/439/16, by Chief Benson Akingboye and Hon. Ehizuwa Agbonayina, directing INEC to deal with the Sheriff faction in relation to candidates for the Ondo and Edo governorship elections.
When the case was called Thursday, Ibrahim’s lawyer, Oladele Oyelami informed the court that his client has effected service of processes (court documents) and notice of hearing on the respondents through substituted means, by publishing them in two national dailies, as earlier directed by the court.
Oyelami however, failed to exhibit copies of the newspaper publications in court yesterday.
Ruling, Justice Abang, who currently sits as the court’s vacation judge, noted that, because he has up to September 9 to act as the vacation judge, it was practically impossible for him to hear and render his opinion on the suit, including the motion for interlocutory injunction.
“Therefore, the only option left for the court is to return the case file to the Honourable Chief Judge of the Federal High Court for re-assignment after the court’s 2016 long vacation,” Justice Abang said.
Meanwhile, the PDP in Ondo State has petitioned the National Judicial Council (NJC), questioning Justice Abang’s handling of the case filed by Akingboye and Agbonayinma
Ondo PDP’s Secretary, Chief Oyedele M. Ibimi, who endorsed the petition dated July 21, 2016, urged the NJC, under the leadership of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmoud Mohammed, to investigate Justice Abang’s conduct in his handling of the case and set aside orders earlier made by him in the case by Akingboye and Agbonayinma.
The CJN has since acknowledged the receipt of the petition. Justice Mohammed, in an acknowledgment letter dated July 27, 2016, with reference No: NJC/F.3/FHC. 44/III/504A, informed the petitioner that “action is being taken, please.”
However, the Ward Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Igbotako II Ward 04 in Okitipupa Local Government Area, Ondo State, Alhaji Usman Lawal has applied to be joined as defendant in the suit filed by Ibrahim.
Lawal, who claimed to be Ibrahim’s cousin and the Ward Chairman of the party in Igbotako II Ward 04 in Okitipupa Local Government Area, Ondo State, questioned his right to sue as a member of the PDP and in the party’s name when he is not a member of the PDP.
The Chairman, who exhibited the register of the party’s members in his Ward, said Ibrahim’s name is not contained in the register. He said Ibrahim belonged to a party called Accord and has not obtained any “waiver” to contest the forthcoming governorship election under the banner of the PDP.
Lawal stated, in a supporting affidavit to his application to be joined in the suit, that “I know as a fact that the 1st plaintiff (Barr. Jimoh Ibrahim) is a member of Accord and has severally visited our Igbotako community with vehicle branded in Accord logo and symbol, and has canvassed for membership of Accord assuring community members that he will contest the 2016 governorship election of Ondo State under Accord.
“The plaintiff has boasted severally to me that he will use the courts to stop PDP from sponsoring a governorship candidate in the 2016 governorship election in Ondo State. Further to the foregoing, the 1st plaintiff, who is not a member of the PDP is among certain individuals, who have set up a sham parallel state congress under one Biyi Poroye, who never contested as the Chairman of the PDP.
“The said sham parallel state congress set up by Biyi Poroye is planning a sham PDP 2016 governorship primary for the 23rd August 2016 in Akure. The 1st plaintiff is reported to have obtained a sham PDP nomination form from the said Biyi Poroye.
“The said proposed sham governorship primary is subject of litigation in suit No: AK/133/2016; PDP and 3 others v. Biyi Poroye and INEC in which the 1st plaintiff was cited as one of the individuals, who without authority, collected purported governorship nomination form from Biyi Poroye.
“The 1st plaintiff and other unknown persons, acting together to subvert the PDP nomination by the duly elected state party congress headed by Engr. Clement Faboyede have been restrained by the order of the High Court of Ondo State.
“I know that the 1st plaintiff in this case is not a member of the 2nd plaintiff (PDP) let alone, a contestant in the forthcoming gubernatorial primary election in Ondo State. The 1st plaintiff, not being a member of the PDP can only aspire for any elective post, by the provision of the constitution of the PDP, if he is granted a waiver,” Lawal said.
Lawal has also filed a notice of preliminary objection to the suit and urged the court to not hear it for lack of jurisdiction. He also queried Ibrahim’s locus standi (right to sue in relation to an issue) to institute the case.
Hearing in the case will resume after the court’s vacation in mid-September, when the case is re-assigned and a hearing date communicated to parties.