Ibeshi files N2b suit against PDP, Ayade over guber primary

Ibeshi

• Nigeria needs Atiku in 2019, group insists
A gubernatorial aspirant on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Cross River State, Mr. Emmanuel Ibeshi, has filed a N2billion suit before a Federal High Court in Abuja against his disqualification from participating in the party’s governorship primary, which held in the state on September 29.

In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1268/2018, the plaintiff also joined PDP, Governor Benedict Ayade, who emerged as the party’s gubernatorial candidate in the disputed primary ahead of the 2019 election, and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as defendants.

This is just as Nigerians have been urged to elect quality leadership with necessary human and intellectual capacity to drive the nation out of its current socio-economic and political crises come 2019.

In a statement, national President and Global Coordinator of Women and Youth Supports for Atiku, ‘WAYS 4 Atiku,’ Princess Kemi Adesanya-Eboda, said Nigeria deserves quality leader like the former Vice President, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku, to bring peace, unity and equitable development to the country.

While arguing that Atiku’s political and business background represent the kind of quality leader the country desperately needs to reposition its economy, Adesanya-Eboda declared: “The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential flag bearer has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others.”

She also described Atiku as a consummate humanist who has been tested and trusted and proven to have the capacity, competence and resilience to drive Nigeria out of its present predicament.

According to her, Atiku has demonstrated those feats, both as a former vice president and successful private businessman with chains of businesses catering to the needs of many compatriots in the six geo-political zones in Nigeria, that makes him best suited to reform the nation’s economy.

Nigerians, she stressed, should focus solely on competence, capacity and character in deciding who becomes president in 2019, adding, “Atiku’s presidency in 2019, will be for an all-inclusive government that will unite the country and bring the citizenry out of penury through mass employment, wealth creation and genuine restructuring.”

In his suit, Ibeshi, among other prayers, asked the court for an order reversing his disqualification and the nullification of the September 29 primary to pave the way for a fresh primary in which he should be allowed to participate. He sought an order restraining INEC from accepting Ayade as the party’s gubernatorial candidate in the state. The plaintiff also prayed to be awarded a total of N2.194billion as damages and other costs he claimed to have incurred in pursuit of his ambition on the platform of the party.

In his statement of claim accompanying his writ of summons, the plaintiff said he spent huge sums of money preparatory for the primary, garnered support from across the state, and was coasting to victory before he was unjustly disqualified.

He said he procured and submitted his nomination forms along with three other aspirants to PDP, adding that the party then set up a Zonal Screening Committee to evaluate the eligibility of each of the aspirants. He explained that the Zonal Screening Committee sat in Port Harcourt and screened him and other aspirants of the party from all states in the South-South geo-political zone, saying, “the screening exercise was conducted on September 22, 2018. It was at this screening exercise that the first signs of collusion between the defendants to exclude the plaintiff from the contest manifested. The Screening Committee managed to disqualify all other aspirants that filed nomination forms to contest against the second defendant (Ayade), leaving only the second defendant as the sole candidate for the party primaries for the governorship ticket.

“This outcome was actively canvassed by the second defendant who complained publicly and bitterly that he was the only sitting governor of the first defendant in the South-South Zone, who was being challenged for the party ticket, with all other governors being returned unopposed.”

The reason provided by the Zonal Screening Committee for the disqualification of the plaintiff was that he did not attach his passport photograph to his party membership card.

He also noted, “Otherwise, the plaintiff was unblemished and impeccably qualified to contest for the office of governor under the Constitution of Nigeria. The excuse given by the Zonal Screening Committee is untenable under the Electoral Act as the placement of passport photograph on the party membership card is not a requirement for qualification to contest the election under the relevant statutes.”

The plaintiff, through his counsel, Godwin Adole, therefore, sought, among other prayers, a declaration that PDP, having collected huge sums of money from him as the cost of nomination forms and putting him to serious expenses campaigning for support from among party members, could not have validly excluded him from the primary.

He also sought another declaration that the purported emergence of Ayade as PDP’s gubernatorial candidate “from the very unconstitutional process that excluded him was illegal and void under the law.”

He, therefore, sought an order nullifying the primary process as it relates to the state, saying it was unconstitutional therefore null and void.”

He sought an order setting aside the disqualification of the plaintiff by the first defendant, and for the proper conduct of the party primary elections by the first defendant for the governorship ticket of the party in Cross River State, which primary election shall be contested between the second defendant and the plaintiff.”

He also sought an order restraining INEC from accepting or acting on the submission of Ayade’s name by PDP as governorship candidate for Cross River State for the 2019 general elections.

In the alternative, he sought N1billion against the defendants and in his favour for breach of his “fundamental right to fair hearing.”

He sought another sum of N194million being the cost of nomination forms and campaign expenses incurred by him prior to his disqualification from the primary.

He also sought the sum of N500million as general damages against the defendants for breach of contractual obligation, and another sum of N500million against Ayade “for inducing and instigating the first defendant to breach its legal and contractual obligations to the plaintiff by pressuring the first defendant to disqualify the plaintiff from participation in party primaries for the governorship ticket of the first defendant in Cross River State.”

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