GOVERNOR Godwin Obaseki has won a big reprieve in his bid to become the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) gubernatorial candidate in September’s governorship polls after all the other candidates agreed to withdraw a suit against him and settle the matter out of court.
On Monday, Governor Obaseki suffered a major setback after a suit was instituted by an aspirant Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihiama, asking the court to stop the governor from participating in the party’s primaries. Mr Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama argued that since Governor Obaseki was not part of the candidates screened by the PDP’s national working committee (NWC) before the date on the timetable lapsed, he should not be allowed to participate in the primaries.
Last Friday, Governor Obaseki formally joined the main opposition the PDP just under a week after leaving the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), at a brief ceremony in Benin City. He was subsequently granted a waiver by the PDP’s NWC to stand in its Edo State gubernatorial primary elections due to take place tomorrow.
After listening to the arguments a Port Harcourt high court, presided over by Hon Justice E A Obile, granted Mr Ogbeide-Ihama’s prayers. Over the last 48 hours, however, the PDP has been conducting behind the scenes negotiations and today, all the candidates, including Mr Ogbeide-Ihama agreed to settle the matter out of court.
At a resumed hearing this morning, Ferdinand Orbir, the lead counsel for Mr Ogbeide-Ihama told the court that they have served all the parties to the suit as ordered and also published the order in two national newspapers. He, however, told the court that the parties have opted for an out-of-court settlement.
All the counsels to the defendants told the court that they have no objection to the application for out of court settlement. Emmanuel Enoidem, the PDP’s national legal adviser, said the suit was withdrawn as a result of the resolution of what led to the legal action.
With this matter now resolved, the coast is now clear for Governor Obaseki to contest in the primary elections which will take place in less than 24 hours. Several suits and counter-suits are pending in several courts over the matter and it is now expected that they will all be withdrawn.