By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Wednesday, declined to halt the governorship primary election of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Rivers State.
The court, in a ruling that was delivered by Justice Taiwo Taiwo, dismissed an ex-parte application for stoppage of the primary election, which was filed by a detained governorship aspirant in the state, Hon. Farah Dagogo.
It will be recalled that Hon. Dagogo, who is a serving member of the House of Representatives for Degema/Bonny Federal Constituency, was arrested and arraigned after he was declared wanted by the Rivers state government.
He is standing trial on a two-count charge that borders on conspiracy to commit felony and alleged sponsorship of cultism in the state.
However, the detained federal lawmaker who had since pleaded not guilty to the charge, through his team of lawyers, approached the high court, alleging a deliberate attempt to deny him the opportunity to participate in the governorship primary election of the party.
Aside from his substantive suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/654/2022, the plaintiff, also filed an ex-parte application wherein he prayed the court to issue an interim injunction restraining the party from proceeding with the scheduled governorship primary election without the inclusion of his name in the list of aspirants.
He equally sought an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the PDP from using any list of aspirants without his name to conduct the May 26 primary election, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.
As well as an order barring the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, from accepting any candidate who might emerge from the primary election conducted without his participation.
Cited as defendants in the matter were PDP and INEC.
Meanwhile, in his ruling on Wednesday, Justice Taiwo held that processes the plaintiff filed before the court did not disclose any urgency that would warrant the issuance of an ex-parte injunction against the defendants.
“Ex-parte injunctions are meant for matters of real urgency”, the court held, stressing that it has the powers to give redress to the plaintiff even after the primary election is conducted.
Justice Taiwo noted that whereas the plaintiff filed his substantive suit on May 12, he waited till May 18 to file the ex-parte motion for interim injunction.
The court subsequently fixed June 7 to hear Dagogo’s substantive suit against PDP and INEC.
The embattled lawmaker had specifically applied for, “An order of interim injunction restraining the 1st Defendant/Respondent either by itself or any of its organs howsoever described from parading and or using any list of aspirants for the purposes of conducting the gubernatorial primary election for Rivers State on 26th May 2022 or any other date fixed, without the name of the Plaintiff on the list of contestants for the said primary election pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.
“An order of interim injunction restraining the 2nd defendant either by itself or any of its offices or agents from accepting any candidate which might emerge from the Rivers State Gubernatorial Primary of the 1st defendant fixed for May 26, 2022 or fixed for another day, where the event has held or has been organized by the 1st defendant, without the participation of the plaintiff, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice”.
As well as, “An order abridging the time within which the defendants/respondents should respond to both the motion on notice and the substantive suit”.
The court earlier summoned the defendants to appear before it to show cause why reliefs sought by the plaintiff should not be granted.
PDP, through its lawyer, Mr. Ken Njemanze, SAN, sought the dismissal of the suit, even as it challenged jurisdiction of the court to entertain same.
Likewise, INEC’s lawyer, Mr. O. A. Abiyemi, also urged the court to dismiss the suit for want of merit.