Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
There is tension in Bayelsa State as the Supreme Court is set to hear the suit challenging the declaration of Governor Douye Diri as the winner of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) held on September 3 2019.
The Chairman of the PDP electoral panel and governor of Taraba State, Governor Darius Ishaku, had declared Diri winner after polling 561 votes to defeat his close rival, Ndutimi Alaibe who polled 365 votes.
Alaibe, dissatisfied with the declaration of Diri as Governor, had approached the High Court arguing that the PDP and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) adopted a flawed process that led to the emergence of Diri as the PDP flagbearer.
Justice Tijani Ringim sitting at the Federal High Court Owerri had dismissed Alaibe’s suit declaring Diri as the winner of the primaries.
Alaibe had proceeded to the Appeal Court to challenge the decision of the lower court and in a unanimous decision, the Appellant Court upheld the decision of the lower court.
Alaibe, however, filed an appeal at the Supreme Court arguing through his counsel S.T. Ologunorisa, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) that the lower and the appellant courts erred in law by upholding the election of Diri as PDP candidate and pray that the apex court declares him the winner of the primaries.
A five-man panel of Supreme Court Justices headed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammed had on June 17 asked the appellant and the respondents to regularise their processes.
It was learnt that the apex court had communicated to the counsel that the hearing of the suit would be on Tuesday, July 14.
A lawyer privy to the communication but who pleaded anonymity said the hearing has been fixed for tomorrow but the apex court can decide to give its ruling immediately.
‘Yes, the communication has been passed that the hearing is for tomorrow. But since it is the Supreme Court, it can hear the case and decide to give judgment tomorrow too.’
Already Diri and top chieftains of the PDP have relocated to Abuja to monitor proceedings.
Supporters of Alaibe and Diri have been engaging in a verbal war on Facebook over the winner of the said primaries.
Supporters of Alaibe had questioned the rationale behind a sponsored documentary on the PDP primaries on some national television stations, while supporters of Diri insisted that there is no harm in airing the documentary to remind people that Diri convincingly won the governorship primaries.