Bayelsa Guber Race: Court Orders INEC To Include PDP Candidate
There was wide jubilation yesterday in Barrister Seriake Dicksons’ camp following an Abuja court’s order directing the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) to include his name as a candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in next month’s governorship election in Bayelsa State.
Last week, the electoral body released a total of 35 names representing different parties for the election without naming any person in the PDP, because of what it called “litigation”.
However, Dickson approached the Abuja court for remedy and an interim injunction directing INEC to include his name was obtained.
Justice G.K. Olotu gave the order following an application for “judiciary review by way of mandamus” in terms of the reliefs set out in the statement of facts that accompanied the application.
Justice Olotu after hearing the submission of Barristers F. N. Nwosu and Obinna Mbuka, counsels for Hon. Dickson in a 17 paragraph affidavit restrained INEC from further removing or excluding the applicant and his deputy, John Jonah as duly nominated candidates of PDP from contesting the February election in Bayelsa State.
The order according to the court is given under rule 34(5)(3) of the Federal High, and thereafter adjourned the case to January 26 for hearing.
Immediately the news filtered in Yenagoa, there was a wild jubilations among PDP supporters in Dickson’s camp. A party stalwart described the situation as positive development in the efforts to bring change to the state.
But in his reaction, Chief Timpre Sylva, described the order as “strange, despicable, and untenable.” An Abuja Federal High Court granted the order late Wednesday night under an unusually heavy police presence, which compels the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to publish the name of Mr. Seriake Dickson as Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the February 11, governorship election in the state.
The governor on INEC to challenge the “immoral, ungodly and pathetic” court order obtained by fraud in the dead of the night.
Speaking through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Doifie Ola, Sylva said the order and the processes leading to it were “a grave insult to the integrity of the judiciary”.
Governor Sylva noted that prior to the events of Wednesday, he had instructed his lawyers to do a permanent search at the court registry to monitor the judiciary in case his adversaries were up to any tricks. Through the search at the registry, his lawyers found the pendency of a suit filed by Dickson against INEC requesting for an order of mandamus to compel the electoral commission to publish his name as the PDP candidate for the 2012 gubernatorial election in Bayelsa State.
He explained that when the finding was brought to his attention, he instructed his lawyers to file a joinder, as an interested party, requesting a stay of proceedings on the suit, pending the determination of the motion for joinder.
Sylva observed that on Wednesday, 17 January, both parties were in court until 6.30pm, and about that time, the registrar of the court called the lawyer to Dickson into the chambers. The governor’s lawyer was not invited, but he followed them into the chambers. In the chamber, the judge, Mrs. Olotu, pointedly told his lawyer that she did not invite him, but the lawyer insisted he was an interested party in the matter and deserved to be there.
The governor noted that at this point, the judge threatened his lawyer with armed policemen, saying if he did not go away, the police would be instructed to throw him out forcefully. Out of respect for the institution of the judiciary, Sylva’s lawyer left the judge’s chamber, but he remained in court till 9pm, when about 100 policemen were brought into the court premises to forcefully chase out the lawyer and other sympathisers of Governor Sylva.
Sylva said he later learnt that 15 minutes after the police action, after his lawyer and supporters had been chased out, an order was granted by the judge.
Sylva is aware that what Dickson sought was an ex parte motion for relief to compel INEC to put his name as PDP candidate. But the judge went ahead and granted not only the leave to compel INEC to publish the name, but also the mandatory order to compel INEC to put Dickson’s name as the PDP candidate.
The governor observed that in so doing, Justice Olotu determined the substantive relief sought by Dickson at the ex parte stage, which meant that INEC was not heard, his application for stay was not heard, and the relief Dickson was seeking had been heard at this preliminary stage.
“It is sad that on these matters that are awaiting determination at the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, a judge of the Federal High Court of Nigeria will go ahead to hear and give a ruling,” Sylva observed.
Governor Sylva observed that there was enough material before the court to show that the subject matter of Dickson’s application was a matter of litigation at the Supreme Court. He interpreted the Justice Olotu’s action as sitting on an appeal that is before the Supreme Court
Sylva sees the speed with which the matter has been determined as a clear pointer to the fact that the judge was interested not only in justice but in some other special interests.