EDO: Confusion and drama legal tussle for APC ticket

Written by on June 9, 2020

There was a lot of drama and confusion yesterday in Edo state, as Governor Godwin Obaseki and Comrade Adams Oshiomhole’s camps of the All Progressives Congress (APC), battled for a vantage position to pluck the party’s governorship ticket at the Federal High Court, Benin.

After a court sitting, where journalists were barred, both camps gave contrary accounts of what happened in the temple of justice regarding the mode of primary to be adopted for the June 22 governorship primary in the state.

While Obaseki’s faction is in favour of indirect primary to be staged in Benin, Oshiomhole’s faction wants direct primary in all the wards of the state.

Counsel to Oshiomhole’s camp, Rowland Otaru, told journalists that the court reserved ruling on the matter, after yesterday’s proceedings.
However, that of Obaseki’s camp, Ken Mozia, said the court stopped APC and Oshiomhole from adopting any method of primary.

Efforts to get the court clerk and registrar to clarify issues, yesterday, did not yield result. When approached for clarification, the clerk referred Vanguard to the registrar, who in turn said the clerk was in a position to release the information.

This happened on a day the APC published details of Governor Obaseki and five other aspirants’ credentials, which showed that Obaseki had three credits in WASCE, a document that had been at the heart of controversies regarding his eligibility to secure a university admission, which required five credits.

Meanwhile, Obaseki has said that he does not have problems with Oshiomhole and pledged to support any of the other five aspirants that wins the APC ticket if he loses the primary.

Also, a group, Edo Collective Agenda of Nigeria, ECAN, has berated Comrade Oshiomhole over his alleged statements against some prominent Benin chiefs, just as former Commissioner for Information in the administration of Governor Oshiomhole, Prince Kassim Afegbua, has backed Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to succeed Governor Obaseki on account of the latter’s alleged poor performance.

Confusion in court

The Federal High Court sitting in Benin City, yesterday, adjourned hearing on an ex parte motion to restrain the National Working Committee, NWC, of the APC and the party’s National Chairman, Comrade Oshiomhole, from using direct primary to elect Edo State governorship candidate of the party till Thursday, June 11.

Also joined in the suit marked FHC/B/CS/48/2020 filed by two chieftains of the APC, Kenneth Asekhome and Matthew Iduoriyekemwen, who is also a governorship aspirant, are the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and the Inspector General of Police.

Three other aspirants — Osagie Ize-Iyamu, Pius Odubu and Osaro Obaze — are seeking to join the suit as the fifth, sixth and seventh defendants through a motion on notice before the court, but the application was not heard because the court said it wasn’t ripe for hearing.

Justice Mohammed Umar adjourned the matter, yesterday, to allow the parties in the suit to be served the relevant papers.

He ruled: “The motion for joinder filed by the party seeking to be joined is not ripe for hearing. Party will be heard on joinder at the appropriate time.

“All parties in the suit are not to do anything contrary to the procedure and hearing of the suit, and parties are hereby directed to file all papers and exchange same within two days and suit adjourned to 11/08/2020 for hearing of all pending applications.”

However, there was mild drama before the sitting when all journalists were asked to leave the court room. Court officials claimed the presiding judge said he would not appear except not more than 20 persons were seated, including court staff, in line with COVID-19 regulation in the state.

Different accounts

At the end of court sitting, lawyers who spoke to journalists gave different accounts of what happened in the court room.

Counsel to the Applicants, Ken Mozia, SAN, said: “Several processes were filed and commenced arguments on the ex parte application for injunction. They were ordered to show cause why the injunction should not be granted today. Two of the parties did, two did not, so there were arguments about the proper procedure to be adopted.

“The court rose and wrote a ruling that pending the hearing and determination of the main case, APC, as a party, should refrain from taking any step to implement any decision with regards to the mode of primaries to be adopted.

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