Alex Enumah in Abuja
A former Minister of State for Agriculture, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, has joined the league of aggrieved All Progressive Congress (APC) members challenging the outcome of the September 4 primaries which produced David Lyon as the party’s flag-bearer in the forthcoming governorship election in Bayelsa State.
Those who had earlier commenced legal action against Lyon’s emergence included Peter Ozobo, Preye Aganaba, Sidi Godwin, all of the APC and Douye Diri of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
In his own suit, Lokpobiri prayed the court for an order setting aside the nomination of Lyon as the governorship candidate of the APC in the forthcoming governorship election on the ground that he did not win the September 4 primary election.
In a court action instituted by his lawyer, Fitzgerald Olorogun, the former minister prayed the court to declare him candidate of the APC in the November 16 governorship poll having purportedly won majority of the votes cast.
According to him, he polled the highest votes of 111,439 cast at the election, while the next person to him, Aganaba Stephen, scored 5,426; Ebitimi Amgbare clinched the third position with 638 votes and Lyon David Pereworinimi came fifth with 325 votes.
In the originating summons sighted by our correspondent in Abuja, Lokpobiri applied for an order of perpetual injunction restraining APC, its officers, agents and privies from treating, presenting or holding out Lyon to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the party’s candidate for the election.
The plaintiff also sought an order of perpetual injunction stopping INEC, its officers, agents and privies from accepting or further accepting, publishing or further publishing Lyon as the flag-bearer and another order barring the electoral body from excluding him as the APC candidate.
Besides, the governorship aspirant sought another order to stop Lyon from parading or further parading, presenting or further presenting himself as APC candidate and a similar order against INEC to stop it from accepting, recognising, or dealing with Lyon or putting his image on the ballot paper in the name of APC as the party’s governorship candidate.
Lokpobiri wanted the court to compel INEC to treat him as the lawful candidate of APC and to accord him the rights, privileges and perquisites of a candidate of APC in the gubernatorial election.
In a 45-paragraph affidavit in support of the suit, the plaintiff averred that a governorship primary election committee was constituted by the National Secretariat of the APC under the chairmanship of Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, and that the committee in compliance with directive of the party conducted the primary poll through direct primary procedures.
The plaintiff, who personally deposed to the affidavit, claimed that the primary election was conducted throughout the state with the involvement of local government and ward chairmen of the party with six governorship aspirants including himself contesting for the APC ticket.
At the end of the primary election, Lokpobiri claimed that he won majority of lawful votes in five local governments comprising Ekeremor with 48,113; Sagbama with 24,890; Ogbia 13,349; Yenagoa 18,258; and Kolokuma/Opokuma where he scored 6,809, bringing his total score to 111,439 while Lyon unlawfully declared as winner scored only 325 votes.
The plaintiff averred that instead of Yobe State governor to supervise collation and declaration of result in line with APC guidelines, one Senator Emmanuel Ocheja allegedly announced false results without any collation and made Lyon a purported winner of the September 4 primary election.
The ex-minister also averred that local government and ward chairmen co-opted into the conduct of the primary election all swore to affidavits at the end of the collation of the results to confirm the authenticity and validity of the results in the five local governments, while violence prevented declaration of results in the remaining three local governments.
Lokpobiri, who attached results of the primary election and affidavits of the collation officers to the originating summons, claimed that he protested the unconstitutional announcement of Lyon as winner of the primary election to an appeal committee of APC on the primary poll but did not get positive response.
The governorship aspirant also pleaded report of security agencies that monitored the primary election along with INEC officials to confirm collation of results in the five local governments.
He, therefore, asked the court to hold that the APC, Lyon and INEC who are the three respondents in the suit cannot breach the 1999 Constitution, the Electoral Act 2010 and the APC guidelines to make unlawful declaration and nomination of Lyon as flag-bearer of the party.
Lokpobiri claimed to have purchased nomination and expression of interest forms with over N22 million and was screened and cleared to participate in the primary election.
Meanwhile, Justice Jane Inyang has ordered substituted service of the originating summons on APC, Lyon and INEC through pasting of same on their respective offices.
The order of the court followed complaints by plaintiff counsel that Lyon who is second defendant in the suit has been evading service of the court process since it was filed.
Justice Inyang, while granting the ex-parte application argued by Olorogun, ordered that the court papers be pasted on the campaign office of Lyon along Isaac Boro Expressway and that of INEC at its office along Swali road.
The plaintiff counsel had in the ex-parte application complained that Lyon was evading service of court processes along with the two other respondents.
The court has fixed October 14 for the parties to appear in court for hearing of the matter before the November 16 main election.