Judex Okoro, Calabar
The Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers state has barred the National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from altering the ward and local government chapter exco lists.
The executives emerged from the March 7 and 21, 2020 Ward and Chapter congresses and were inaugurated through a notary public after it has been endorsed by NWC in a letter dated April 26 and signed by its National Organising Secretary, Col. Austin Akobundu (rted)
The court presided over Justice I. M. Sani, also annulled the disqualification of Mr. Jarigbe Agom, one of the aspirants for the PDP Cross River North senatorial primaries just as it ruled that venue for the primary remains in Cross River North Senatorial.
At the court, Counsel to the PDP and the National Legal Adviser, Mr. Emmanuel Enoidem, battled to stop the inclusion of the wards and Chapter executives lists and the to sustain the disqualification of Agom but Justice Sani ruled in favour of Agom and held that “the 1st (PDP) and 2nd (INEC) defendants have no right to alter or modify the list of elected officials emanating that was a product of the process that took place on the 7th and 21st of March, 2020).
The PDP Screening Panel had cleared Agom but Appeal panel disqualified him, and not satisfied Agom took PDP to court to determine the authentic delegates’ list and venue for the primary.
In a telephone interview after the ruling, the counsel to Rt Hon Jarigbe Agom, Chief Ifedayo, SAN, said: “I am very satisfied with the outcome. We went to court essentially to preserve the integrity of the electoral process and compliance with the provisions of the electoral act and the constitution of the PDP.
“As you may be aware, the PDP conducted congress, endorsed it and ratified the list of executives and INEC ratified it. But some persons went ahead to produce a different list different from the one in custody of INEC and were also planning to go and conduct the party primary in a place different from the senatorial district as mandated by law.
“So what we did was to go to court saying if you are going to conduct this primary in line with law, that list that was sanctioned by everybody must be the one you use and have to do the primary at the senatorial district.
“The court listened to all arguments and agreed with our position that you can not concoct another list. The court ruled that the delegates list that was ratified by the NWC which is lodged with INEC as a result of the congress result of March 7 and 21, 2020 is the one the party should use and equally the PDP should do the primary at the Cross River North Senatorial district.”
On the issue of disqualification of Agom, he said: “It has been set aside by the court because my client was disqualified even when the court had earlier issued an interim order that nobody should take steps to overreach the other one, hence the court set aside the purported disqualification.
“Let me warn the party, if they ignore the court order, we will take them to all the courts in the land and they may end up not having candidate”.
Five aspirants are contesting including the Chairman of Cross River State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Dr Steven Odey; former State House of Assembly Member, Dr. Ogana Lukpata; a member of Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Communication, Mrs. Martina Odom and a lecturer with the University of Calabar, Mrs. Mary Iji.
The party primary is slated for Saturday Sept 5 at Ogoja while the by-election for the northern senatorial district has bee fixed for October 31.