Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
There is a new twist to the suit filed by a People’s Democratic Party (PDP) governorship aspirant, Chief Ndutimi Alaibe, seeking to nullify the PDP governorship primary election as the acting Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Terhemba Tosho, has granted his request to transfer the case to the Federal Capital Territory.
At the last hearing on October, the case was adjourned till October 18 but, surprisingly, the court had summoned the counsel to all the parties to appear before it today where the presiding judge, Justice Jane Inyang, broke the news of the transfer of the case.
She disclosed that she had acceded to the directive of the Ag Chief Judge of the FHC to transfer the case to the FCT based on the request of Alaibe dated September 27 and received by her court on October 10.
According to her, the credibility of her court was not questioned in seeking a transfer of the case but security concerns were raised which necessitated the transfer.
However, the sudden transfer of the case was greeted with protests by counsel to the defendants over what is being described as an ambush by the plaintiffs.
The National Legal Adviser of the PDP and counsel to the party, Mr Emmanuel Enoidem, who expressed disbelief over the turn of events, said it was inconceivable that Alaibe would run away from the state over alleged insecurity.
“We came in this morning only to be told that the matter has been transferred due to a letter by Chief Timi Alaibe. We are a bit taken aback at the turn of event, and not because we are afraid of the case in Abuja.
“This is a man who wants to be governor of Bayelsa State and not the governor of the FCT or any other state in Nigeria. And if he is running from Bayelsa, I am afraid what kind of governor the person will make.”
Mr Chuks Uguru, counsel to the 4th and 5th defendants, decried the transfer of the case and stated that parties in a case should not be allowed to do window shopping. He, however, said that wherever the case is heard, the defendants would still present facts to prove their case.
The lead counsel to Chief Alaibe, Mr Ayodele Adedipe, noted that the comments of the defence counsel were “diversionary and petty”.
“The point here is that the plaintiff said he had confidence in the judge and cited an example of the incident where a Federal High Court was invaded sometime ago. Because of that, he said let us have the legal battle on a neutral ground where people can come to court and lawyers can advocate without fear.”