Unknown Identity: Court asked to remove Gov Diri, deputy; case adjourned until February 19

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On Thursday, the suit seeking the disqualification of Governor Douye Diri and Deputy Governor Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo could not proceed at the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court.

The suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1448/23 and filed by Blessing Clement Azibanagbal, through her lawyer, Nsowu, listed Messrs Diri, Ewhrudjakpo, PDP and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as first to fourth defendants respectively.

Ms Azibanagbal prayed the court to declare that Mr Ewhrudjakpo had multiple names without any evidence to prove “that he is the same person,” urging the court to declare that the PDP had no candidate in the election. 

The matter, number 16 on the cause list before Justice Emeka Nwite, was adjourned for a hearing until February 19, 2024.

Less than nine days to the November 11 Bayelsa governorship election, the suit seeking Messrs Diri and Ewhrudjakpo’s disqualification had begun.

Mr Nwite had, on November 3, fixed Thursday (November 30) for a hearing after the judge granted the ex parte motion moved by the plaintiff’s counsel, Ifeanyi Nwosu, seeking leave to serve Diri and Ewhrudjakpo at the Government House in Bayelsa, through courier service.

The suit sought an order of mandatory injunction, directing INEC to remove the names of Messrs Diri and Ewhrudjakpo as PDP’s candidates in the November 11 poll.

It also sought an order of perpetual injunction restraining INEC, its agents, privies, or whoever called from further publishing their names as standard-bearers for the party in the forthcoming election in Bayelsa.

It further sought a declaration that Mr Ewhrudjakpo was unqualified to run as deputy governor on the PDP platform.

Ms Azibanagbal, in the originating summons dated October 26 and filed on October 30, sought a declaration that Mr Ewhrudjakpo was unqualified to be a running mate of Mr Diri.

But the PDP, in a notice of preliminary objection dated November 28 and filed November 30 through its lawyer, AK Ajibade, prayed the court to dismiss or strike out the suit for being statute-barred. It also urged the court to dismiss the suit for not disclosing reasonable cause of action against the defendants.

Giving five grounds, the PDP argued that Ms Azibanagbal’s case was founded on a pre-election matter and the time prescribed by the constitution to initiate such a suit had elapsed.

It argued that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear and determine a suit already statute-barred.

“This honourable court lacks jurisdiction to hear and determine a suit where and when the plaintiff’s suit failed to disclose cause of action and/or reasonable cause of action,” it said.