Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Confusion is confusion brewing in Bayelsa over a court order restraining the state Independent Electoral Commission (BSEIC) from the conduct of the local government elections scheduled for August 10.
Justice Venchak Gaba of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court made the restraining order in a ruling on an ex parte motion marked: M/7079/19 brought by Micah Akeems and the National Rescue Movement (NRM).
Defendants in the suit are the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the BSIEC.
The plaintiffs/applicants had asked the court for an order restraining the second defendant from holding the local government poll in the state pending the hearing and determination of the suit challenging the holding of the election.
In his ruling, Justice Gaba, said: “Upon listening to a motion ex parte and accompanying affidavit by T. I. Iber, it is hereby ordered as follows:
“An order of this court granting leave to issue and serve the concurrent originating processes as per the writ of summons and statement of claim herein attached and marked exhibit MA1 for service on the second defendant, BSIEC in Yenagoa, outside the FCT.
“An order of this court granting an interim injunction restraining the defendants servants, assigns and privies or any other person under their directive or control from taking any further steps in compliance with the guidelines for the local government elections 2019 published and released by the second defendant with a view to proceeding to conduct the local government election in the eight local government areas in Bayelsa State fixed for August 10 pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed in the suit.”
The court adjourned fixed October 9 for hearing.
However, BSEIC acting Chairman, Remember Ogbe, said he was not aware of any court order.
Ogbe, who stated this during a meeting with representatives of political parties, said there is no going back on the conduct of the council’s elections.
“Unequivocally, the commission wishes to state we are unaware of such court order and as such all activities will go on as scheduled. However, if such development is brought to our notice, BSIEC will treat it appropriately and accordingly,” he said.
In a related development, Governor Seriake Dickson, has declared the governorship ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) open to all members of the Restoration team.
The Restoration is the political team of Dickson and comprises federal lawmakers, members of the state legislature, cabinet members and other political appointees.
Protests had trailed a statement credited to the Special Adviser on Political Matters, Fyneman Wilson, which unveiled the Chief of Staff, Government House, Talford Ongolo, the Secretary to the State Government, Kemela Okara and senator representing Bayelsa Central, Douye Diri, as three members of Dickson political camp that had indicated interest.
However, Dickson, in a move to douse the tension generated by Wilson’s statement, had declared that the governorship race is open to all members of his team.
Special Adviser on Media Relations to the governor, Fidelis Soriwei, quoted Dickson, in a statement, to have declared that he would only back one of Restoration members within the Bayelsa State chapter of the PDP, which controls over 80 percent of the party, for the governorship primary.
Dickson, who expressed happiness that several members of the Restoration team have indicated interest in the governorship, called on members to pick the party’s form.
He said expanding the number of aspirants from the fold showed the existence of large number of highly competent and dedicated men of repute who are prepared to undertake the crucial mission of leading the state after him.
The statement also quoted the governor as having called on Bayelsans to make dispassionate assessment of the aspirants for the Restoration team to make the crucial decision on who to back in the primaries.
Meanwhile, barring any change in plans, the Deputy Governor, Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John Jonah (retd) is set to join the governorship race.
Jonah, who had said he wanted to retire from politics having declined Dickson’s request to contest Bayelsa East senatorial election, has been persuaded by political associates that he is the most competent person to continue the restoration dream of Dickson having been his deputy since 2012.