PDP asks court to remove Ayade, deputy from office | CABLE REPORTERS

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has dragged Cross River State Governor Ben Ayade to court seeking an order directing him and his deputy to vacate office being members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) that did not win the March 9, 2019 governorship election in the state.

In the suit made available to some newsmen in Calabar, yesterday, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), APC and the deputy governor, Prof. Ivara Ejemot Esuas were joined as defendants.

Ayade was elected on the platform of the PDP in 2015 and 2019, but decamped to APC on May 20, 2021 along with his deputy, and declared that Cross River State is “now an APC state” and effectively caused the governance of the state to be in the control of the APC.

The PDP, in the matter instituted at the Federal High Court, Abuja, argued that the mandate given by the electorate in Cross River State was to the PDP and Ayade as the candidate of the party at the election, and that the governor cannot transfer the mandate to APC or any other political party.

Therefore, PDP, in the suit filed by five senior advocates of Nigeria led by Emmanuel C. Ukala, is seeking a judicial declaration giving it an opportunity to nominate a replacement to the seat of the governor and the deputy governor in Cross River State.

“A declaration that in view of the provisions of section 221 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and the democratic system of governance operated in Nigeria, votes at the election and elections are won by political parties and not their candidate or the candidates sponsored at the election by the political parties.”

The party is also seeking an order directing the1st defendant (INEC) “to immediately receive from the plaintiff (PDP), the name of its candidates to replace the 3rd and 4th defendants (Ayade and Esu) for the purpose of utilising the lawful votes cast in favour of the plaintiff or in the alternative directing the 1st defendant to hold a gubernatorial election for Cross River State in accordance with Section 177 © of the Constitution (excluding the 3rd and 4th defendants who are disqualified from participating in the election by virtue of Section 192 (1) (b) of the Constitution) arising from abandonment of the majority lawful votes and the offices occasioned by the action of the 3rd and 4th defendants by reason of their becoming members of the 2nd defendant who did not win majority of the lawful votes cast at the election.”

In a reaction, the Special Adviser to Governor on Media and Publicity, Mr. Christian Ita said: “In any case, given the relevant provisions of the constitution, they are just jokers and jesters who are embarking on mere academic exercise for cheap headlines in the media.”

Meanwhile, the PDP Board of Trustees has cautioned members against taking extreme positions on the issue of zoning of presidency ahead of 2023 general elections.

Chairman of the BoT, Senator Walid Jibrin, noted that such positions could worsen the crisis in the party.

The party’s NEC had approved the zoning of its chair to the North, a development many had interpreted to mean that the party may zone its 2023 presidential ticket to the South.

Some PDP chieftains of northern extraction, including some governors who have been eying the party’s presidential ticket, have kicked against the zoning, which they considered inimical to their aspiration.

The caution came as PDP appointed Governor Umaru Fintiri of Adamawa State to head the 20-member committee to screen aspirants from the northern region interested in the position of national chairman of the party.

All the 19 states in the north and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) are expected to nominate one person each to the Fintiri panel.

These were the outcome of the caucus meeting held behind closed doors at the Bauchi State Governor’s Lodge in Asokoro, Abuja on Thursday night.

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