Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
Justice Jane Inyang of the Federal High Court, Yenagoa, yesterday announced that the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Tanko Muhammad, had approved the request of a former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Chief Timi Alaibe, to transfer his suit against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its governorship candidate, Senator Douye Diri to Abuja.
Announcing her decision to accede to the directive of the CJN, Justice Inyang explained that the decision was based on the request of the complainant, Alaibe, which was dated September 27, 2019 and received by her Court on the 10th of October, 2019.
Inyang pointed out that the case was transferred due to fears expressed by Alaibe over the security in the state.
Alaibe alleged that the ward congress held by the party was flawed due to irregularities. He also contended that there was a pre-determined plan to hand-pick a candidate.
He was also against the manner the electoral and returning officers were picked to “favour aspirants endorsed by the already biased leadership of the party in the state.”
He is praying the court to set aside the submission of Diri’s name to INEC by the PDP as its candidate in the governorship election coming up on November 16 in view of what he described as the several legal and procedural infractions cited.
Alaibe is further praying the court to order the conduct of fresh primary elections for the nomination and sponsorship of the candidate for the governorship election in Bayelsa State.
However, the national Legal Adviser of the PDP, Emmanuel Enoidem and lawyer to the controversial delegates during the September 3 gubernatorial primaries, Chuks Oguru, have protested the transfer of the case to Abuja.
Enoidem told newsmen outside the courtroom that it was only right to hear the case in the state since the contention was over who will govern Bayelsa and not Abuja.
Oguru, who also spoke in the same line, said: “We should have been put on notice. We find the method of the plaintiff objectionable. If you are sure of your facts, you go to court and argue your case. Anywhere they take us to; we will meet them with concrete facts for facts. We are very prepared because we are sure of our grounds.”
However, Ayodele Adedipe, counsel to Alaibe said the decision to transfer the case to Abuja was that of the plaintiff, adding that Alaibe expressed security concern about the matter being heard in Yenagoa.
“The CJN found merit in his concern and directed the presiding judge who acceded to the request,” he said.
Adedipe described the comments by the defence counsel as diversionary and petty, citing an example of an incident where a Federal High Court in the state was invaded in the past.
“Because of that he (Alaibe) said let us have the legal battle on a neutral ground where people can come to court and lawyers can advocate without fear. And when people come and play to the gallery over the decision, I don’t have much comment on that,” he said.
Also joined in the suit as defendant was Doubra Kumokou, for himself and on behalf of the three ad-hoc delegates allowed to vote at the elective State Congress.