No Respite for Diri Yet as Alaibe’s Petition Ups Ante

3
Senator Douye Diri

  • Dickson mulls senate ambition 
  • PDP may drag Degi-Eremienyo to court for perjury

Chuks Okocha in Abuja

Despite being sworn in on Friday as governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri would have no respite from the political controversy that surrounded his inauguration, THISDAY has learnt..

The Supreme Court had on Thursday awarded the governorship to PDP, which had Diri as candidate in the November 16 governorship poll in the state. The apex court’s decision denied Chief David Lyon of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who had been declared winner of the election and governor-elect by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the post.

But the decision has also opened a new opportunity for those who lost out in the contentious primary that produced Diri as PDP candidate. The petition against Diri’s emergence as PDP candidate by a former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Ndutimi Alaibe, is still pending at the Federal High Court, Abuja.

In a related development, the immediate past governor of the state, Hon. Seriake Dickson, is said to be positioning himself to replace the newly sworn in deputy governor, Lawrence Ehrudjakpor, in the Senate. Dickson and Ehrudjakpor are from the same senatorial district. This is as PDP is alleged to have concluded plans to charge with perjury the APC deputy governorship candidate, Senator Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, whose alleged certificate forgery cost his party an election it had overwhelmingly won. PDP would be pressing for the enforcement of the Supreme Court judgement against Degi-Eremienyo.

In another development, the Supreme Court will on Tuesday hear the application for a review of its judgement on the Imo State governorship election filed by sacked Emeka Ihedioha.

Sources close to Alaibe told THISDAY that he still had his case against the emergence of Diri as PDP candidate in the September 3, 2019 governorship primary of the party. Alaibe’s grouse was that PDP allowed local government chairmen and councillors to vote during the primary elections, when the party’s guidelines did not allow elected chairmen and councillors elected within 90 days to the election to vote during the governorship primaries.

Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, who was at the time in acting capacity, had approved the request by Alaibe for the transfer of his suit against Diri to Abuja.

The presiding judge of the Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa, Justice Jane Inyang, while announcing her decision to accede to the directive of Muhammad, said the decision was based on the request by Alaibe, dated September 27, 2019 and received by her court on October 10, 2019.

Inyang said Alaibe’s letter did not question the credibility of the Federal High Court but expressed security concern in the state. She had, therefore, declared, “I hereby transfer the case.”

Diri, a senator backed by Dickson, had won the primary election. Diri scored 561 votes to defeat Alaibe, who came second with 365 votes.

Before going to court after the primaries, Alaibe, in a statement from his campaign organisation, said the electoral process was “flawed” and “manipulated” and that he was “brazenly robbed of victory”.

He filed a suit at the Federal High Court, Yenogoa, seeking the cancellation of the result of the primary. PDP, Diri, and INEC were among the defendants in the suit.

The suit filed pursuant to Order 3(9) of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2019, seeks answers to questions bordering on obvious non-adherence to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Electoral Act 2010, the PDP Constitution and Election Guidelines, by the Bayelsa State chapter of the party in the conduct of the Ward Congresses, inclusion of local government council officials in the delegates list, and the procedure for inclusion of three ad-hoc delegates.

“Citing specific sections of relevant laws and guidelines, Alaibe is asking the court to examine the entire processes that resulted in the primaries and rule in his favour in the light of violations committed in a desperate move to impose a pre-determined, hand-picked candidate on the people out of 21 aspirants,” said the statement, which was signed by the administrative secretary of the campaign organisation, Seiyefa Brisibe.

It was later gathered from insiders that PDP was determined to have Alaibe replace Diri in the Senate, since both are from the same senatorial district, while Dickson seemed set to replace the deputy governor.  But one of the sources said Alaibe was yet to make his position known.

But as it appeared,

PDP might have resolved to take Degi-Eremienyo to court following alleged forgery in his academic qualifications, which was why the Supreme Court invalidated his candidacy and, by extension, Lyon’s.  The PDP is said to be pursuing a case of perjury against him.

Meanwhile, all is set for the Supreme Court to hear on Tuesday the application for a review of its judgement on the Imo State governorship election, brought by Ihedioha. Ihedioha is seeking his return as the duly elected governor of Imo State. His application, though not unprecedented, is the last resort and its outcome would be final.