Bayelsa Poll: Court hears fresh suit to stop Diri’s governorship bid

Less than nine days to the Bayelsa governorship election, a fresh suit seeking the disqualification of Governor Douye Diri and his deputy, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, has commenced at the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court.

The suit, before Justice Emeka Nwite, sought an order of mandatory injunction directing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to remove the names of Messrs Diri and Ewhrudjakpo as PDP’s candidates in the November 11 poll.

It also sought an order of perpetual injunction restraining INEC, its agents, privies or whosoever called from further publishing their names as standard bearers for the party in the forthcoming election in Bayelsa.

The suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1448/23 and filed by a Bayelsa woman, Blessing Azibanagbal, through her lawyer, Ifeanyi Nsowu, further sought a declaration that Mr Ewhrudjakpo was not qualified to run as deputy governor under the PDP.

Ms Azibanagbal, in the originating summons dated October 26 and filed on October 30, prayed the court to declare that Mr Ewhrudjakpo had multiple names without any evidence to prove “that he is the same person.”

She, therefore, urged the court to declare that the PDP had no candidate in the poll.

The suit, brought under Rule 3, Order 9 of the FHC Civil Procedure Rules, 2019, sought “a declaration that the third defendant (PDP) does not have any qualified candidate to run for the governorship election in Bayelsa.”

Messrs Diri and Ewhrudjakpo, PDP and INEC are the first to fourth defendants, respectively, in the matter.

Raising five issues for determination, Ms Azibanagbal asked whether a first school living certificate holder can run for the governorship election of a state in line with the provision of the 1999 Constitution.

Also, “Whether the failure of the first (Diri) and third defendants (PDP) to provide a candidate that has the qualification to run for the governorship of a state can be a ground to disqualify both candidates.

“Whether a candidate with multiple names without any evidence to substantiate the names can contest for governorship election in a state.

“Whether the second defendant (Ewhrudjakpo), submitting only his first school living certificate in his Form EC9 submitted with INEC, qualifies him to contest election as deputy governor of Bayelsa State.

“Considering issues 1 to 4 above, whether this honourable court has jurisdiction to order the fourth defendant to remove the names of first and second defendants as candidates in the forthcoming governorship election in Bayelsa State.”

In the affidavit in support of the originating summons deposed to by Yenle Istifanus, a litigation secretary with Compendium Chambers, the lawyer said she knew as a fact that Ms Azibanagbal, who hails from Bayelsa, had the locus standi (legal right) to institute the action.

The suit, the only matter in the Friday’s cause list, was heard at the judge’s chamber.

It was, however, gathered that Justice Nwite granted the prayer and adjourned the matter until November 30 for a hearing.