The tussle over who is the right governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 governorship election will be decided on November 4th, 2022 by a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt.
Recall that after the governorship primaries of the PDP held on 25th May 2022 at the Obi Wali Cultural Centre, Port Harcourt, an aspirant, CHIEF MORGAN TOM-WEST had approached a Federal High Court seeking for the disqualification of Mr. Siminalayi Fubara who was declared winner in the Party primaries. The Defendants in the matter are Mr. Siminalayi Fubara, PDP, INEC, PDP National Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu and the Chairman of the Electoral Committee that conducted the guber primary in Rivers state, Prof. Walter Mboto. Chief Tom West is asking the court to declare him the validly elected Rivers State Governorship candidate of the PDP.
Our judicial correspondent who has been following the matter, reports that Chief Tom West had approached the Court through his Lawyer, Ibrahim Idaye, Esq, seeking for the disqualification of Mr Siminalayi Fubara on “GROUNDS THAT THE PDP GOVERNORSHIP CANDIDATE IS NOT QUALIFIED TO CONTEST THE PDP GOVERNORSHIP PRIMARY OF 25TH MAY 2022 BECAUSE HE IS NOT A MEMBER OF PDP AND DID NOT HAVE A VALID PDP MEMBERSHIP CARD.
In an originating summons dated 7th June 2022, cited by our correspondent in the court, Chief Tom West claimed THAT MR. SIMINALAYI FUBARA WRONGLY PRESENTED A PDP MEMBERSHIP CARD of one FUBARA JOSEPH with deleted signatures of the national secretary and the National Organising Secretary to THE INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION (INEC) as his, in breach of THE PARTY CONSTITUTION AS PROVIDED IN CHAPTER 2 PART 1 SECTION 8 (7).
Chief Tom West further claimed in the suit that THE PDP CANDIDATE LIED ON OATH ABOUT HIS RETIREMENT AS ACCOUNTANT GENERAL OF RIVERS STATE on the 11th April 2022 WHILE STILL IN THE CIVIL SERVICE OF RIVERS STATE.
Chief Tom West also claimed that the PDP candidate FURTHER LIED ON OATH THAT HE ATTENDED COMPREHENSIVE SECONDARY SCHOOL, PORT HARCOURT, IN 1992, CONTRARY TO HIS SSCE RESULTS, and IN ANOTHER BREATH lied on Oath that he attended OPOBO PRIMARY SCHOOL, OPOBO TOWN and obtained the FIRST SCHOOL LEAVING CERTIFICATE IN 1986, WHILE HIS NAME IS NOT IN THE LIST OF PUPILS THAT SAT IN FISRT SCHOOL LEAVING CERTIFICATE EXAMINATION IN 1986 IN OPOBO PRIMARY SCHOOL, OPOBO TOWN.
In an originating summons in suit No: PHC/ABJ/CS/818/2022, filed by the plaintiff counsel, Barr. Ibrahim Idaye ESQ, in the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt, pursuant to section 177c OF THE 1999 CONSTITUTION AS AMENDED, SECTION 84 (14) of the Electoral Act, 2022, Order 3, Rule 6 and 7 of the Federal High Court (civil Procedure Rules), 2019, Chief Morgan Tom West is asking the court to determine whether Mr. SIMINALAYI FUBARA, who is not a registered member of PDP validly emerged as the winner of the GUBERNATORIAL primary election held on 25th May, 2022, with regards to the Party constitution and the Gubernatorial primary election guidelines as mandated by section 84 (8) of the Electoral Act. The plaintiff
Chief Morgan Tom West is also asking the court to determine whether by the provisions of sections 177(c), 182 (1) (g) of the 1999 constitution as Amended, and section 84 (11) and (12) of the Electoral Act and Chapter 2, Part 1, section 8 (7) of the PDP constitution, the 1st Defendant, MR. SIMINALAYI FUBARA who has no valid PDP membership card can validly contest in the 25th May, 2022 Rivers state Gubernatorial primary election held at Obi Wali Cultural Centre, Port Harcourt, Rivers state.
In the originating summons sighted by our correspondent in court on the 13th October 2022, Chief Tom West is also praying the court for an Order to disqualify Mr. Siminalayi Fubara as the RIVERS STATE governorship candidate for the Peoples Democratic Party for an alteration of the Party’s membership card BELONGING TO ONE FUBARA JOSEPH that was earlier SUBMITTED to PDP AND later TO the INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION (INEC) by the Defendant WITH DELETED SIGNATURES OF THE National secretary and the Organising Secretary INCLUDING THE NAME “JOSEPH” on the membership card.
The plaintiff Chief Tom West further claimed in the SUIT that chapter 2, part 1, section 8 (7) of the PDP constitution clearly stated that the “MEMBERSHIP CARD OF THE PARTY shall be produced by the National Headquarters and authenticated by the National Chairman and the National Secretary”, meaning that ANY PDP MEMBERSHIP CARD WITHOUT THE SIGNATURES OF THE NATIONAL CHAIRMAN AND NATIONAL SECRETARY IS INVALID, NULL AND VOID, AND THAT THE PDP GOVERNORSHIP CANDIDATE MR. SIMINALAYI FUBARA PDP MEMBERSHIP CARD Number 1560046 PRESENTED TO the INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION (INEC) IS FAKE AND INVALID.
FOLLOWING THE ABOVE, the plaintiff is praying the court for an Order to disqualify Mr. Siminalayi Fubara by the provisions of section 177c OF THE 1999 CONSTITUTION as Amended, and for lying on Oath about his retirement from the Rivers State Civil Service on 11th April 2022, adding that the affidavit sworn by Mr. Siminalayi Fubara on the 8th day of June 2022 is contrary to his affidavit dated 13th April 2022.
Documents sighted in the originating summons dated 5th September 2022 shows that the PDP Governorship candidate is still in the Rivers State civil service, and at the same time the governorship candidate of Rivers State PDP. However the PDP will know her fate on November 4th, 2022.
The tussle over who is the right authentic governorship candidate of the Party for the 2023 governorship election will be decided by the Court, which may linger up to the Supreme Court.
By the Evidence DATED 5TH AND 20TH SEPTEMBER, 2022 and sighted by our correspondent in court showed that the PDP GOVERNORSHIP candidate MR. SIMINALAYI FUBARA is still signing official documents as THE ACCOUNTANT GENERAL OF RIVERS STATE CONTRARY TO AN AFFIDAVIT SWORN BY HIM ON 13TH APRIL 2022 THAT HE RETIRED AS THE ACCOUNTANT GENERAL OF RIVERS STATE ON 11TH APRIL 2022. An action Chief Tom West claimed violated the RELEVANT PROVISIONS OF THE 1999 constitution AS AMENDED and the electoral act.
Controversy has continued to dog the governorship primaries of the PDP held on 25th May 2022, following loud outcries of imposition of non party member as candidate and non compliance of the party constitution and the electoral guidelines, which sharply breached democratic principles and extant provisions of relevant Nigerian laws.
At the time of filing this report, the defendants in the matter including the national chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu have filed a preliminary objection and counter affidavit dated 4th October 2022.
The lingering apprehension in the state chapter of party over the fallouts of the gubernatorial primary will be decided one way or the other on November 4th 2022.