These are not the best of times for Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki as he seems to be facing a major hurdle in seeking to get the People’s Democratic Party, PDP governorship ticket in the state.
Obaseki might not be participating in the PDP primary coming up in the state on Thursday.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said it will obey an order by the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, which restrained Obaseki from participating in the governorship primaries of the PDP.
The court order was given on Tuesday, June 23, 48 hours before the PDP primary election scheduled for Thursday, June 25.
INEC’s spokesman, Festus Okoye confirmed to Leadership newspaper that the electoral commission in line with its policy on respecting court orders has resolved to respect the order by Hon. Justice E.A. Obile.
Earlier, the commission issued a statement in respect of the Edo State governorship election.
Read the INEC’s position below:
INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) met today, the 23rd June 2020 and deliberated on a range of issues including the ongoing conduct of Party Primaries relating to the Edo Governorship election slated for the 19th September 2020, the Court Orders emanating from the administration of political parties and conduct of the primaries, as well as the Code of Conduct and Rules of Engagement for Security Officials on Electoral Duty.
The Commission notes that the conduct of party primaries, including resolution of disputes arising therefrom will end on Saturday 27th June 2020, while the submission of the list of candidates the parties propose to sponsor at the election and affidavits of validly nominated candidates will close at 6pm on Monday 29th June 2020.
In view of this and as part of its commitment to deepen the use of technology in elections, the Commission will conduct a training programme for Liaison Officers nominated by all the registered Political Parties on the use of the INEC Portal for uploading nomination forms of candidates. The training will take place at the Conference Hall of the Commission on Thursday 26th and Friday 27th June 2020 in two batches, to allow for physical distancing in line with the COVID-19 protocols.
Political Parties should note that the organisation and scheduling of various activities and processes leading to the conduct of elections are complex and involve extensive and careful planning and any disruption of these processes comes at a huge cost to the nation. The spate and tenor of pre-election litigations and the conflicting orders emanating therefrom can harm the smooth conduct of primaries and the upcoming elections. The Commission is closely monitoring the cases arising from the administration of political parties, the conduct of primaries and nomination of candidates. This notwithstanding, the Commission restates its avowed commitment to continue to obey all orders and judgements from properly constituted courts in accordance with the rule of law.
Code of Conduct and Rules of Engagement for Security Officials on Electoral Duty
The Commission also considered the report from the meeting of the Inter- Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES), which recently approved a Code of Conduct and Rules of Engagement for Security Officials on Electoral Duty. The Code is signed by the Chairman of INEC, the National Security Adviser (NSA) as Co-Chairman of ICCES and the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) as head of the lead agency in election security.
The said Code will be uploaded on the websites of the Commission, the Office of the NSA and the Nigeria Police Force on Thursday 25th June 2020.
Festus Okoye Esq.
National Commissioner and Chairman,
Information and Voter Education Committee
23rd June 2020.
Governor Obaseki is now walking a tight rope in his quest to clinch the PDP ticket as the electoral body warned political parties that it will respect every litigation emanating from primary elections while stressing that such litigation can harm the smooth conduct of the governorship election.
A PDP governorship aspirant, Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, had filed the suit, insisting that Obaseki did not purchase PDP form or undergo screening within the time-table schedule.
The ruling came 24 hours after a frontline aspirant of the PDP in Edo state, Mr Gideon Ikhine, stepped down for Governor Obaseki.
Ikhine, a Fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (FNSE), announced his decision on Monday, June 22 at his campaign secretariat in the state capital, Benin.
Governor Obaseki, the PDP state party chairman, Dr Tony Aziegbemi and other party leaders from across the state were in attendance at the briefing.
Ikhine said Governor Obaseki’s defection to the party was God’s great answer to the party and his aspiration.
Governor Obaseki seems to have been coasting to victory in the PDP primary before the court’s ruling earlier today.
However, to make matters worse for the governor, his Rivers state counterpart, Nyesom Wike, has disengaged himself from a reconciliation meeting organised by the PDP in Edo ahead of the gubernatorial election.
The aggrieved governor on Tuesday, June 23, alleged that there are some persons in the PDP’s National Working Committee (NWC) who are bent on bringing his name to disrepute.
Wike warned the NWC to guard against taking any step that will bring about the disintegration of the party.