By Nathan Nwakamma/ Taiye Agbaje
Yenagoa, Abuja Nov 14, 2019
A Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa, on Thursday nullified the governorship primaries that produced Chief David Lyon as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), for the Nov. 16 poll in the state.
Delivering judgment, Justice Jane Inyang, held that the primaries were conducted arbitrarily outside the rules of the party.
Meanwhile, a suit challenging the suitability of the Kogi Governor, Yahaya Bello, to contest the Nov. 16 governorship election in the state will tomorrow, Friday, come up at the Federal High Court, Abuja.
The originating summon, which is instituted by Natasha Akpoti, the Social Democratic Party (SDP)’s governorship candidate in the forthcoming poll, will be mentioned at Court 5 before Justice Inyang Ekwo.
The Bayelsa suit, filed by Sen. Heineken Lokpobiri, challenged the conduct of the governorship primaries of the APC which held on Sept.4.
Justice Jane Inyang held that since the process was conducted in violation of the party’s constitution and guidelines as clearly spelt out for the conduct of governorship primaries, none of the aspirants should be fielded as the party’s candidate.
She, therefore, restrained the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), from including Lyon as the APC candidate in the governorship election slated for Saturday.
Inyang noted that according to the APC guidelines for the conduct of the 2019 governorship primaries, the results were expected to be declared by the returning officer for the pre-election, Gov. Mai Kala Buni of Yobe and not Sen. Emmanuel Ochega, Secretary of the election Committee.
Inyang also held that the APC violated its own rules in the composition of the election panel when it constituted a one-member committee and not seven members as stipulated in the party rules.
“It has been established by judicial authorities and several judgments that political parties are bound by their own rules, the committee that conducted the primary threw caution to the winds and it is my ruling that the primaries stand nullified.
“The result, announced by Sen Emmanuel Ochega, is not valid as he is not the returning officer for the election.
“And I make an order restraining INEC from recognising any of the aspirants that participated in the said primaries,” Inyang said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Lokpobiri had approached the court, to challenge the emergence of Mr. David Lyon as the APC governorship candidate in the state.
Listed as respondents in the case are the APC, Lyon and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Lokpobiri had claimed that he won the Sept. 4 governorship primaries conducted by the APC, using the direct primary mode.
NAN reports that the aspirants, who participated in the Sept. 4, APC governorship primaries in the state, included Lokpobiri, Aganaba Steven, Ebitimi Amgbare, Diseye Poweigha, David Lyon and Ongoebi Etebu.
NAN also reports that a former Cross River Resident Electoral Commissioner, Briyai Frankland, was disqualified.
NAN reports that Justice Ekwo had, on Tuesday, delivered judgment, disqualifying the APC Deputy Governorship Candidate in Bayelsa, Sen. Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, over false information given in his CF0001 Form submitted to INEC for Saturday’s poll.
In the suit on the Kogi election, while the SDP candidate is the plaintiff, the APC and the INEC are 1st and 2nd defendants respectively.
The suit, dated Oct. 10 and marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1221/2019, filed by Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, on Akpoti’s behalf, sought the court’s determination on the eligibility of Governor Bello in the Saturday election, having allegedly been involved in double registration as a voter.
Akpoti said “that by his wilful act of making double registration as a voter, Yahaya Bello, candidate of the 1st defendant is not a fit and proper person to be allowed by the 2nd defendant to vote or be voted for in the forthcoming Kogi state governorship election, having committed act of electoral fraud.
“That Mr. Yahaya Bello, the candidate of the 1st Defendant. was initially registered as a voter sometime in 2011 in Abuja, by the 2nd defendant.
“That Bello, the candidate of the 1st defendant again fraudulently procured from the 2nd defendant. a second registration as a voter on 23rd May,. 2017, at Government House, Lokoja, while his 2011 first registration as a voter in Abuja was still live, extant and subsisting.
“That the said Yahaya Bello, the candidate of the 1st defendant carried out the double registration with the 2nd defendant so as to scuttle due electoral process.
“That such a person is not a fit and proper person to vote for in any election, let alone for the high office of the governor of a state.”