Obaseki cleared to contest Edo PDP primary as EPM dismisses governor
A Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has struck out the suit filed by the governorship aspirant of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, seeking to stop Governor Godwin Obaseki from participating in the party’s governorship primary scheduled for today. One of the counsels for the plaintiff, D. C. Denwigwe, had upon court resumption of hearing, in an oral application, informed the court that the parties in the suit had resolved their differences and agreed to settle out of court.
Meanwhile, Edo State Peoples Movement (EPM) has expressed relief over Governor Godwin Obaseki’s exit from All Progressives Congress (APC), saying that the governor could not win election from any other platform. According to Chief Francis Inegbeneki, who made EPM’s position known in an interaction with The Guardian, said the direct governorship primary method adopted by the APC proved that the majority of Edo people are still with the party.
Commenting on the June 22 governorship primary that threw up Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu as the party’s standard bearer, Inegbeneki said: “As a leader of the APC in Edo Central Senatorial District, I can authoritatively say that Esan people voted overwhelming with over 80 per cent votes cast for Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
Denwigwe told the court that their clients had settled and had asked them (their counsels) to withdraw the case. The presiding judge, Justice E. O. Obile, however, struck out the matter following submissions that the parties involved in the matter had agreed to resolve their differences.
Counsel for the first defendant, Uche Secondus, and 3rd to the 7th defendant, Higher King and Counsel for the 8th and 9th defendants, Alex Ejesiema, also backed the motion raised by Denwigwe.
Justice Obile in his ruling said: “I commend the counsel and parties for settling out of court as it is the proper thing to do.”
While speaking with newsmen after the court, Alex Ejesiema, noted that the ruling of the court meant that Obaseki could now contest the primary election of the party on Thursday (today). He stated that PDP was ready to challenge the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the matter before it was struck out, adding that it was an internal party affair.
Recall that Ogbeide-Ihama, one of the PDP aspirants, who instituted the suit, had vowed not to step down for Obaseki after the party granted him (Obaseki) waiver to contest after he defected from All Progressives Congress (APC).
Ogbeide-Ihama in the suit queried Obaseki’s educational certificates, adding that he just joined the party and hence only those who purchased the governorship aspirant forms during the stipulated time be allowed to participate in the primaries.
When the matter came up on Tuesday, Justice Obile did not grant the request but directed that the motion seeking to stop Obaseki be served on the defendants including Him (Obaseki) through newspaper publications.
However, when the court resumed hearing on the matter on Wednesday, Counsel for the plaintiff, Ferdinand Orbih, made an oral application and prayed the court to grant the parties four hours to concluded its meeting on reconciliatory move by the leaders of the party.
The court granted the request and stood down the hearing for three hours. After the stipulated time, Orbih informed the court that the process of out of court settlement had commenced within the party, urging the court for time which the court granted and at the end of the meeting, Justice Obile, granted the prayers of the counsel for Ogbeide-Ihama, Orbih, to enable the parties resolve their terms for the agreed settlement.
When contacted, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Obaseki, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, said the story of from court is straightforward and that there was nothing to add since his principal has been cleared to contest the primary.
However, Inegbeneki noted his gratitude to his party for adopting direct primary mode of electing its candidate, saying, “I must also thank the APC National Working Committee (NWC) of APC for adopting the direct mode of primary for Edo State governorship primary. Because direct primary offers the people the opportunity to partake in who governs them. So this for me is what I call democracy. I will like to advise the NWC of our party that in subsequent elections in other states, direct mode of primary should be adopted to give the people at the grassroots a sense of belonging, that they actually voted for the candidate who eventually becomes their governor.”
Inegbeneki noted that with Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu on APC’s ballot, Obaseki does not stand a chance in the September election.
“For me, the Edo governorship election is to say as good as won come September 19, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu will be declared the governor of Edo State. The reason is very clear, from my very own observation and what I read in the national dailies, it is clear that PDP wants to field Mr. Godwin Obaseki. If PDP gives Obaseki their guber ticket, it is wasted. If they allow him contest under their platform like I heard, he has bought form even though the party has concluded nomination and submission of forms before he went there. I don’t know if they would still accommodate him.”