Rivers Court Clears Ways for Obaseki to Participate in PDP Primary

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  • Ogbeide-Ihama bows to pressure, withdraws suit
  • 2,229 delegates to choose between Gov, Imasuagbon

 

Chuks Okocha in Abuja, Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt, Emma Okonji, Nosa Alekhuogie in Lagos and Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City

Reprieve came yesterday for Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, as the Federal High Court, sitting in Port Harcourt, cleared the way for him to participate in the governorship primary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) holding today in Benin City.

The court struck out a suit filed by the leading aspirant of the party before Obaseki’s last-minute entry into the race, Hon. Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, seeking to bar the governor from participating in the shadow poll.

Justice Emmanuel Obile struck out the matter after D.C Demwigwe (SAN), counsel to Ogbeide-Ihama, withdrew the case following an out-of-court settlement.

The out-of-court settlement was the product of tough negotiations by party leaders who had importuned Ogbeide-Ihama, hitherto regarded as the candidate to beat, to withdraw the suit and support Obaseki.

The Chairman of PDP Governors’ Forum (PGF) and Sokoto State Governor, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal and his Delta State counterpart, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, late on Tuesday, steered the last round of talks with Ogbeide-Ihama that prompted him to have struck a deal with Obaseki and other PDP leaders. He then instructed his lawyers to withdraw the suit.

During yesterday’s proceedings, the court had earlier stood down the matter for three hours following an appeal by another member of the plaintiff’s legal team, Mr. Ferdinand Orbih (SAN), that they should be given a brief period to explore an out-of-court settlement.
He had told the court that there were moves by the parties to settle the matter outside the court and urged the judge to stand down the proceedings for four hours.

Obile, however, asked the parties to take three hours to document their terms of settlement and inform the court, which he said would resume by 12.30p.m.

When the court reconvened, the lawyers to the plaintiff, led by Denwigwe, in an oral application, informed the court that the parties in the suit had resolved their differences.
Denwigwe said following the settlement, their clients asked them to withdraw the case and urged the court to strike out the suit.
Lawyers to the defendants aligned with the position of the plaintiff’s counsel and asked the court to strike out the suit.
Striking out the matter, Obile said: “I commend the counsel and parties for settling out of court as it is the proper thing to do.”

2,229 Delegates to Determine Obaseki, Imasuagbon’s Fate

With the withdrawal of Ogbeide-Ihama, a total of 2,229 delegates from 18 local government areas in the 192 wards in Edo State will today decide who will fly the PDP flag between Obaseki and Kenneth Imasuagbon in September 19 governorship Election in the state.

A breakdown of the delegates’ list obtained by THISDAY showed that 120 delegates will emerge from Akoko Edo, 117 from Egor, 118 from Esan Central, 133 from Esan North, 118 from Esan South, 120 from Esan West. Others include: 114 delegates from Etsako Central; 114 from Etsako East, 140 from Etsako West, 120 from Igueben, 116 from Ikpoba Okha, 141 from Oredo, 135 from Orihonmweon, 144 from Ovia North, 117 from Ovia South-west, 124 from Owan East, 124 from Owan West, 124 and Uhumnwode.

Of the three aspirants in the race before Obaseki joined after he defected last Friday following his disqualification from the primary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), on whose platform he won his first term election, only Imasuagbon is remaining in the contest.
Yesterday, Imasuagbon restated his resolve not to step down for the governor.

In a statement signed by him and made available to journalists in Benin City, Imasuagbon debunked the rumour that he had accepted $2 million from Obaseki to step down for him.

The Abuja-based educationist added that he was in the governorship race to win and not to make up the number of aspirants for the PDP ticket.

How Tambuwal, Okowa Resolved Edo Gov Crisis

THISDAY gathered that the peace deal that made Ogbeide-Ihama to withdraw the suit came after Tambuwal and Okowa persuaded him to put party’s interest above self by dropping his challenge.

A source privy to the meeting told THISDAY that a former Edo State chairman of PDP, Chief Dan Orbih and Ogbeide-Ihama attended the meeting.
It was agreed at the meeting that Ogbeide-Ihama should withdraw the suit to enable elders of the party look into his grievances.

In a letter made available to THISDAY, Ogbeide-Ihama said: “I apologise to all my leaders who I continue to hold in high esteem, supporters and party faithful who feel unhappy and surprised at this action I have taken. For me, it is a matter that borders on deep morals, unwavering principles, and strong character, which have formed the cornerstones of my existence.

“Finally, I want to express my deep and profound gratitude to the very respected elders across our state who have reached out to me to intervene in this matter. I have listened and I am still listening.

“A well conducted process will produce a candidate. Whoever that candidate is will have my full support as has been my antecedent in the party; but as I have always promoted, let the right process be followed. We must do what is necessary to protect the stable Edo PDP we have worked tirelessly for this last couple of years.”

He denounced claims that his action was influenced by external forces, stating that “I ask that you all disregard the various falsehoods being spread around by these ‘strange’ characters about my actions being sponsored by forces to frustrate the governor, or that this is for pecuniary gain. Such things have never deserved my attention or response. As I have always said, such crude and unrefined politics remain beneath me.”

As part of the settlement, the National Vice Chairman of PDP for the South-south, Chief Emma Ogidi, sacrificed his position by resigning.
Orbih was appointed as a replacement.

In line with the settlement, the NWC of the party yesterday dissolved the South-south Zonal Committee of the party and announced a new caretaker committee.

According to the National Publicity Secretary of PDP, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, “The action of the NWC is pursuant to Sections 29 (2)(b) and 31(2)(e) of the PDP Constitution (2017 as amended).

“The newly constituted South-south Zonal Caretaker Committee, which is chaired by Chief Dan Orbih, is to pilot the affairs of the party in the South-south Zone for a period not exceeding three months (90) days as prescribed by section 32(2)(e) of the PDP Constitution.”
It was gathered that in reaching the truce, the PDP leadership may concede the 2024 governorship ticket of the party to politicians from the Edo Central.

Meanwhile, the PDP has raised a 25-man appeal committee, led by its National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus.

Other members of the appeal panel include: former Senate President, Senator David Mark; Senator Ahmad Makarfi; Hajia Inna Maryam Ciroma; Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo; Senator Liyel Imoke; Professor Wale Oladipo; Senator Suleiman Nazif; Kola Ologbondiyan; Austin Akobundu; Emmanuel Ogidi and the National Secretary of the Party, Senator Ibrahim Tsauri will serve as secretary of the appeal committee

A statement issued yesterday by the National Organising Secretary of the PDP, Col. Austin Akobundu, (rtd), said the electoral appeal panel would consider appeals arising from the governorship primary.

PDP Promises Peaceful Primary Election

Ahead of the shadow poll today, the PDP yesterday assured Nigerians of a peaceful and successful primary.

The former National Vice Chairman, South-south of the party, Ogidi who spoke yesterday on the Morning Show of ARISE NEWS Channel, a sister broadcast arm of THISDAY Newspapers, said despite the crisis in the party, it would conduct a peaceful and successful primary because the party thrives in internal democracy.

Speaking on the chances of Obaseki winning the PDP ticket in today’s primary, Ogidi said he was confident that Obaseki would emerge winner.

Ogidi added that APC members were not happy that Obaseki resigned from APC to join PDP and they were jittery that he would win the PDP primary to contest against the APC candidate, Mr. Osagie Ize-Iyamu.

According to him, the current crisis PDP is facing in Edo State was sponsored by the APC.