A fresh suit demanding the disqualification of Bayelsa State Governor and candidate of the People Democratic Party (PDP), Douye Diri, from the forthcoming governorship election in the state has commenced at the Federal High Court, Abuja.
The suit, which also seeks to disqualify Diri’s deputy and running mate, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, is seeking an order of mandatory injunction directing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to remove their names as candidates in the election scheduled for November 11, reports NAN.
Elsewhere in Kogi State where a new governor will also be elected on November 11, two major political parties, PDP and Labour Party (LP), have resolved to go into an alliance against the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.
But the incumbent governor, Yahaya Bello, boasted yesterday that his party and candidate will win the election come November 11.
In Imo, one of the three states where governorship elections are scheduled to hold on November 11, a poll has projected victory for the incumbent governor, Hope Uzodimma, who is seeking reelection.
The suit seeking the disqualification of Diri and Ewhrudjakpo also sought an order of perpetual injunction restraining INEC, its agents, privies or whosoever called from further publishing their names as standard bearers for the party in the forthcoming election in Bayelsa.
Marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1448/23 and filed by a Bayelsa woman named Blessing Azibanagbal, further sought a declaration that Ewhrudjakpo was not qualified to run as deputy governor under the PDP.
Azibanagbal, whose suit was filed through her lawyer, Ifeanyi Nsowu, sought in the originating summons filed on October 30 a declaration that Ewhrudjakpo also does not qualify to be Governor Diri’s running mate, saying that the former parades multiple names without any evidence to prove that he is the same person.
She, therefore, urged the court to declare that the PDP had no candidate in the poll.
The suit, which was brought under Rule 3, Order 9 of the FHC Civil Procedure Rules, 2019, sought “a declaration that the 3rd defendant (PDP) does not have any qualified candidate to run for the governorship election in Bayelsa.”
Governor Diri, Mr Ewhrudjakpo, PDP and INEC are 1st to 4th defendants respectively in the matter.
Azibanagbal asked whether a first school leaving certificate holder can run for the governorship election of a state in line with the provision of the Nigerian constitution.
“Whether the failure of the 1st (Diri); and 3rd defendants (PDP) to provide a candidate that has the qualification to run for the governorship of a state can be a ground to disqualify both candidates.
“Whether a candidate with multiple names without any evidence to substantiate the names can contest for governorship election in a state.
“Whether the 2nd defendant (Ewhrudjakpo), submitting only his first school leaving certificate in his Form EC9 submitted with INEC qualifies him to contest election as deputy governor of Bayelsa State.
“Considering issues 1 to 4 above, whether this honourable court has jurisdiction to order the 4th defendant to remove the names of 1st and 2nd defendants as candidates in the forthcoming governorship election in Bayelsa State.”
In a statement on its X (formerly Twitter) handle yesterday, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said that security was top of its agenda in the forthcoming governorship election in Bayelsa State.
The declaration followed a meeting between the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, and members of the Bayelsa State Chapter of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES).
The statement reads: “Happening Now: Security is top on the agenda as a critical meeting between the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, and members of the Bayelsa State Chapter of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES), gets underway at the INEC State Headquarters, Yenegoa.”
According to the statement, six national commissioners, the technical team, and directors are also part of the INEC team.
PDP, LP form alliance in Kogi
The governorship contest in Kogi State assumed a new dimension yesterday with the announcement of an alliance between the PDP and LP.
The alliance adopted the PDP candidate in the election, Senator Dino Melaye, as the joint candidate of the two parties.
The announcement was contained in a statement jointly signed by Melaye, his LP counterpart, Col. Vincent Enemona Abu (rtd) and six other chieftains of the two parties.
The statement reads: “Gentlemen of the press, we are pleased to announce to you that history has been made today, the 4th November, 2023.
“It is a history to salvage our dear state, Kogi and remove the darkness that has bewildered our state for over seven (7) years’ reign of APC led by Alhaji Yahaya Bello.
“Today, I announce to you an alliance between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Dominant Group of Labour Party (LP) in Kogi State for the betterment of our state.
“After a wide consultation and in the interest of our dear state, the Labour Party on this day has resolved to adopt the PDP Gubernatorial Candidate, Senator Dino Melaye, as its candidate for the November 11th Kogi State Governorship Election.
“This alliance is in the interest of all Kogites and Labour Party supporters, and we implore our supporters in Kogi State to mobilise and vote massively for PDP gubernatorial candidate, Senator Dino Melaye, come November 11, 2023.
“Thank you and God bless you.”
Poll puts Uzodimma ahead of others
Ahead of the November 11 governorship election in Imo State, a scientific independent opinion poll conducted by a pro-democracy civil society group, Justice and Democracy for Development (JD4D), has predicted Governor Hope Uzodimma’s victory.
A report released by the CSO in Abuja yesterday showed that the outcome of the poll was a product of random sampling and in-depth interviews conducted across the 27 local government areas of the state.
The report of the sampling showed that the All Progressives Congress (APC) standard bearer, who is on his second term bid, is on the comfortable lead of 70 per cent of respondents ahead of his two closest rivals.
According to the report, “the APC is trailed by the Labour Party (LP) with 18 per cent chances while the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) came third with 13 per cent.”
“Three per cent of the respondents said they were yet to decide on their choice. Two per cent said they would not vote while 1 per cent of the respondents declined to disclose their choice.
“Chances of the APC are mainly spread among middle-aged and elderly persons across sexes with respondents mostly in urban areas choosing the party over the two closest rivals. Out of the 27 LGAs opinions are higher for APC in 17 LGAs, 6 LGAs in favour of Labour Party while 4 LGAs favour PDP.”
Aside from polling higher among eligible voters, the result showed that “the majority of respondents (at 70 per cent) that APC is likely to win the election ahead of Labour Party (24 per cent), followed by PDP at 12 per cent.
“In 17 out of the 27 LGs majority of respondents believed APC will win the election while in seven and three local governments majority of respondents believed Labour and PDP will win, respectively.”
The report also commended all the political parties in the election for working hard to add value to the integrity of the election by canvassing for support, especially to sway the undecided voters.
“Political parties have contacted people in different ways to get their support. Some of the ways are giving food and drinks for attending a rally (51%), sending a message on social media asking to support a candidate (47%), and door-to-door visits (41%).
“Across different ways, APC is observed to be more involved in using these strategies to contact people than other parties or candidates.
“For respondents that had engaged in activities to support gubernatorial candidates of their choice, the following activities are the foremost activities engaged in: encouraged family and friends to support a candidate or party (74%), joined a party (56%) and participated in a rally (47%). APC (26%) followed BY LP (20%) are observed to be the major parties enjoying more encouragement of family and friends to support their candidate or party.”
The report further commended the electoral body, stressing that the survey showed electorates in the state have expressed their confidence in the level of preparedness of the electoral body.
“Overall, 50% believed that INEC is prepared for the forthcoming elections. While 28% believed that INEC is very prepared, 22% believed they are somewhat prepared.”
The report indicated that there is a palpable fear of violence among voters, which it says may drastically reduce voter turnout during the election.
“64% agreed that the possibility of violence or unrest will/may lead them not to go to the polling station to vote in the forthcoming gubernatorial election. Close to 57% agreed that the forthcoming gubernatorial election will increase the level of violence where they live.”
The report also found that while the majority of respondents decry voter inducement, most of them however confirm the sharing of food, drinks, souvenirs and even money.
“About 72% agreed they would report a case of electoral bribery because it is the right thing to do. However, 70% agreed there is no point in reporting electoral bribery because nothing useful will be done about it.
“The majority (63%) agreed that citizens must pay taxes to any government, no matter how the government performs. More than half (51%) disagreed that there is no point in voting because all politicians are corrupt., while the majority (72%) agreed that Imo State is divided between ordinary people and the corrupt elites who exploit them.”