By Andy Esiet, Calabar
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has dragged the Cross River State Governor, Senator Ben Ayade to court seeking an order directing Ayade and his deputy to forthwith vacate office as Governor and Deputy Governor of Cross River State respectively being members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) which did not win the March 9, 2019 Governorship election in Cross River State.
Joined in the suit N0: FHC/ABJ/CS/975/2021 as defendants are the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), APC and the deputy governor, Prof. Ivara Ejemot Esu.
Ayade was elected under the PDP in 2015 and 2019, but decamped to the APC on May 20, 2021 along with his deputy, Prof. Esu 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 a matter instituted at the Federal High Court, Abuja, said, 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 cannot transfer the mandate to the APC or any other political party, hence the PDP in the suit filed by five Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) led by Emmanuel C. Ukala SAN another things is seeking “a judicial declaration giving the PDP 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, 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 PDP 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 utilizing 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.
“An order directing the 1st defendant to immediately declare the persons nominated or to be nominated to it by the plaintiff as Governor and Deputy Governor of Cross River State…an injunction restraining the 1st defendant, its agents, privies, servants and assigns or any person howsoever from recognizing and or continuing to recognize the 3rd and 4th defendants as Governor and Deputy Governor respectively of Cross River State or granting to them any right, benefit or recognition in relation thereto”.
In addition, the PDP is also seeking an order of perpetual injunction “restraining the 1st defendant, its agents, privies, servants and assigns or any person howsoever from recognizing and or continuing to recognize the 2nd defendant (APC) as the political party whose members occupy the offices of Governor and Deputy Governor respectively of Cross River State on the strength of the 9th March 2019 election won by the plaintiff. Perpetual injunction restraining the 3rd and 4th defendants forthwith from putting themselves out or parading themselves as Governor and Deputy Governor respectively of Cross River State.
“An order of perpetual injunction restraining forthwith the 2nd defendant, its agents, privies, servants and assigns or any person howsoever from putting themselves out or parading themselves as the political party whose members occupy the offices of Governor and Deputy Governor respectively of Cross River State”.
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” and declined to comment further.