PDP ASPIRANT ASKS COURT TO NULLIFY AKPABIO'S CANDIDACY
BY IKECHUKWU NNOCHIRI
ABUJA-A gubernatorial aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Akwa Ibom State, Frank Okon Daniel, yesterday, approached a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, praying it to restrain the party from transmitting the name of the incumbent governor of the state, Godswill Akpabio, to INEC, pending the hearing and determination of a substantive suit challenging the legality of the primaries that produced him as the PDP gubernatorial candidate in the state.
The plaintiff is asking the high court to go ahead and nullify the purported primaries held in the state by the PDP, contending that the national leadership of the party under Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo unilaterally selected Governor Akpabio as the sole candidate of the party for the gubernatorial poll.
He alleged that he and other aspirants were shut-out from participating in the process, as well as in a subsequent re-run primaries that he said was conducted in the state on January 15.
Consequently, he is pleading the court to 'restrain the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, from accepting or in any way, acting upon nomination of any person, particularly the 3rd Defendant, Governor Akpabio, herein purportedly elected at the said primaries that held in Uyo, pending the determination of the suit'.
He is equally urging the high court to restrain Governor Akpabio from parading himself as the duly nominated candidate and making, taking, continuing or resuming any steps, attempts, arrangement and preparations to undertake or carry out any function, task or act, pursuant to the result of the said primaries.
He also prayed for 'an order nullifying all acts, tasks and functions purportedly performed during and after January 9, 2011, by the 3rd Defendant pursuant to the results of the purported primaries'.
Detailing reasons he wanted the court to void the primaries in the state, the plaintiff who, through his lawyer, Mr. Andem Edem, filed a 32-paragraphed affidavit in support of his motion on notice, averred that 'the governorship primaries was scheduled to hold on the 9th of January, 2011, at the Uyo township stadium. On the said sate and time, I mobilized all my supporting delegates to the venue in readiness for the election.
'At about 2 P.M, one Mr. Femi Ibitoye informed me that he is the chairman of the panel sent from PDP headquarters Abuja to conduct the governorship primaries in Akwa Ibom state and that he was given a document from the headquarters showing that there is only one candidate for the primaries in Akwa Ibom state in the person of the 3rd Defendant in this suit.
'That for this reason, I am excluded from the contest and shall not be allowed to participate therein.
'That the said Mr. Ibitoye made a public announcement of this sole candidate assertion and same was captured in a video, recording the primaries.
'That I protested the afore-stated to all the defendants, but the 2nd defendant, PDP, proceeded to exclude me by not introducing me as a candidate for the primaries.
'That on the 11 of January, I submitted a written complaint to the 2nd defendant headquarters in Abuja, it has not responded to my petition but is rather busy making arrangements to transmit the name of the 3rd defendant to the 1st defendant, INEC, by January 17, for further action, in total disregard of my right to contest the primaries.
'That if this is done, irreparable injury shall be done to my rights to contest the primaries and possibly the general elections in April.
'that I am prepared to furnish the defendants undertaking as to damages in the unlikely event that this application is eventually found to be unmeritorious at the end of the day' he added.
Meantime, both the governor and the PDP have filed a preliminary objection challenging the competence of the suit as well as the jurisdiction of the high court to entertain same.
Justice Abdul Kafarati has ordered all the parties in the suit to prepare their written addresses, which he said should be ripe for adoption on January 31 when the matter was yesterday adjourned to.