Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The ongoing political drama in Edo State on Monday shifted to Abuja where some aggrieved members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have approached the Federal High Court with a suit seeking the disqualification of the party’s candidate for Governor, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, and candidate for Deputy Governor Mr Audu Ganiyu, in the forthcoming governorship election in the State.
The case has, however, been adjourned to August 24 for hearing by Justice Taiwo Taiwo, who is sitting as a vacation judge of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court.
Before the adjournment, the judge granted an application for substituted service of the court processes on the third and fourth defendants, Ganiyu and Ize-Iyamu, respectively.
Two chieftains of the APC, Honourable Momoh Abdul-Razak and Honourable Zibiri Muhizu, had sued the party candidates for Governor and Deputy Governor in the September 19 governorship election in Edo State over alleged perjury.
Defendants in the suit are the APC, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Audu Ganiyu and Osagie Ize-Iyamu as 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th defendants, respectively.
The plaintiffs are asking the court to disqualify the candidate for Deputy Governor, Ganiyu, from participating in the upcoming election on account of having allegedly given false information to the electoral commission to aid his qualification for the election slated for next month.
Ganiyu, in the suit filed on July 10 by the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Mr Friday Nwosu, has also been accused of certificate forgery.
The plaintiffs prayed the court to annul the nomination of Ize-iyamu as the APC candidate for Governor on account of running with an allegedly unqualified candidate for Deputy Governor.
They prayed the court for another order restraining the APC from contesting the September 19 governorship election upon the disqualification of the 3rd and 4th defendants.
In a 41 paragraph affidavit deposed to in support of the suit, the plaintiffs said that Ganiyu contravened provisions of the electoral laws by providing false information and lying on oath in his form CF 001 he submitted to the INEC in support of his qualification for the September 19 governorship election in Edo State.
According to the deponent, Abdul-Razak, ‘there are several irrevocable different and false information given by the 3rd defendant about himself which cannot be true in his 2020 INEC form EC-9.
‘That I know as a fact that both the alleged name Audu Abudu Ganiyu in his 2020 form EC-9, Audu Abudu Ganiyu in the WAEC (GCE) of December 1983, Audu Gani on the APC card No: 0054243, are not the name of the 3rd defendant as fully and definitely confirmed by the statutory declaration of age (exhibit 6A) that accompanied 3rd defendant’s 2019 form CF 001 personally deposed to by the 3rd defendant at the Registry of the Chief Magistrate Court, Yaba Lagos State on 24/5/1996.’
Abdul-Razak further claimed that the deputy governorship candidate, who is a serving member of the Edo State House of Assembly representing Etsako West Constituency submitted a different name to INEC in 2020 from what he submitted in his 2015 and 2019 CF 001 forms.
He argued that the 3rd defendant had no time in the various certificates paraded by him, attached any change of name to prove the names belong to him.
The plaintiffs further accused the deputy governorship candidate of superimposing the letter ‘A” on the testimonial issued by a state authority or institution to read from originally Audu Ganiyu to Audu “A” Ganiyu which he presented same to INEC in aid of his qualification for the election.
When the matter came up Monday, counsel to the plaintiffs informed the court that while both 1st and 2nd defendants have been served with the processes, the 3rd and 4th have not been served and as such he has brought an application for substituted service.
Counsel to the 1st defendant, Dr Ehiogie West-Idahosa, acknowledged service while there was no appearance for the INEC.
In a short ruling, Justice Taiwo granted the application as prayed and ordered that the court processes including the hearing notice be pasted on the Benin City residents of the 3rd and 4th defendants.