Tension as court rules on Edo APC primaries Thursday

Justice Mohammed Umar of the Federal High Court Benin City, Edo state capital Tuesday reserved ruling on the mode to be adopted by the All Progressives Congress (APC) during the state’s governorship primaries billed for June 22.

 While the party’s National Working Committee (NWC), led by its National Chairman, Mr. Adams Aliyu Oshimohole declared direct primaries as the way to go, Governor Godwin Obaseki and his supporters are voting for indirect primaries.

By direct primaries, all card-carrying members would serve as  delegates and make their choice of who should be the APC candidate, while the indirect primaries would see some members as delegates picking the candidate on behalf of the generality of party members.

Both Oshiomhole and Obaseki have been at loggerheads with the APC governors’ intervention failing to resolve the feud.

Similarly, efforts to get the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to mediate in the dispute could not also yield the desired truce.

 The controversy became a subject of litigation as the party’s factional Deputy Chairman, Kenneth Asekhome and a governorship aspirant, Matthew Iduoriyekemwen headed for the court to challenge the NWC’s decision.

Court’s order

Giving his order Monday, Justice Umar reserved ruling on the mode of primary to be adopted by the party. 

The development has deepened tension among APC stakeholders within the state.

In his order, the trial judge fixed ruling on the matter for Thursday June, 11.

He also ordered all parties for exchange of processes and that they should not proceed on the issue within two days until the determination of the hearing.  

In a suit marked: FHC/B/CS/48/2020,  Asekomhe and Iduoriyekemwen are challenging the decision of the party’s NWC to adopt direct primaries for the nomination of its governorship candidate.

 Defendants in the suit are APC, the party’s national chairman, Mr. Oshiomhole, the Inspector General of Police and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

 The applicants had earlier filed an exparte motion restraining the party from adopting the direct primaries.

They also prayed the court to restrain INEC from monitoring the primaries, and the Police from giving effect to the NWC’s direct primaries order.

However, at a resumed hearing on Monday, counsel to the applicants, Ken Mozia (SAN), said several processes were filed and arguments on the ex parte application for injunction had commenced.

The defendants were ordered to show cause why the injunction should not be granted.

But counsel to the first defendant, H.O Ogbodu (SAN), however raised objection to the court’s jurisdiction at this stage, insisting it was a political party issue.

Also, three other governorship aspirants in the state namely; Osagie Ize-Iyamu, Pius Odubu and Osaro Obazee sought to be joined in the suit as the fifth, sixth and seventh defendants through a motion on notice.

Their application was however not heard as the court said it wasn’t ripe for hearing.

APC displays aspirants’ credentials

Meanwhile, the APC has displayed credentials of all the six governorship aspirants seeking the party’s ticket ahead of Edo state election.

The six aspirants, who bought, completed and submitted the party’s expression of interest and nomination forms are Pastor Ize-Iyamu, Governor Obaseki, Hon. Odubu, Engr. Chris Ogiemwonyi, Hon.  Obazee and Hon.  Iduoriyekemwen.

In the  documents displayed Monday at the party’s national secretariat, Abuja Governor Godwin Obaseki has 3 credits and 3 passes in his 1973 West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) submitted for screening.

The subjects Obaseki passed include: English P7, Literature P7, CRK C6, History A3, Geography C6 and Chemistry P8.

But Obaseki proceeded to higher school, the Institute of Continuous Education between 1976-1979 before gaining admission into the University of Ibadan.
For Ize-Iyamu, he scored division 1 in his WAEC in 1979 and passed the following subjects; English Language- C4, English Literature-C4, History-C4, Mathematics-A3, Chemistry-P7, Biology-A3, Economics-C4 and Agricultural Science-P7.

However, Iyamu, who later studied Law at the University of Benin, graduated from the Law School in 1986/87 and called to Bar in 1987.

Speaking to newsmen at the party’s national secretariat, APC National Publicity Secretary, Malam Lanre Issa-Onilu, said the public display of aspirants’ credentials was necessary because of the party’s previous experience in Bayelsa state.

He said: “We have had experiences that are not so palatable. We have had experiences that are so shocking and we won’t be doing the right thing if we don’t learn from those experiences.

“You will recall what happened in Bayelsa, we thought we did the best we should, but it turned out that we did not do enough. So, the best thing we have to do now is to go beyond ourselves to the things that may not be known to us.

“Beside the fact that we have put it out here for anybody who has information to help the screening committee, we are also taking official steps to verify some of these documents to be sure that we do the right thing and come out clean.”

When asked if the party will contact the institutions as claimed, he said: “By  mere putting it on the board here, making it transparent, putting it before the public, it does mean that people who know them very well; schoolmates, acquaintances , friends and even enemies could come up with whatever they have. We are expecting help from whatever angle it could come from.

“All we are interested in is that, we ensure transparency, ensure that we comply with our constitution, the electoral act and the Constitution of this country. Give everybody a fair chance and be seen to have done your best.”

Asked whether the NWC would call for an emergency meeting of National Executive Committee (NEC) as demanded by some members, Onilu said: “Why should there be emergency meeting, what is the emergency, Covid-19?

“We, NWC are involved in the day-to-day running of the party and this is part of the routine that we carry out. This is not the first time, and whoever said that also is expressing view, which is also allowed in democracy.”

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