Posted by Okee Sydney-Obiukwu | 16 January 2015 | 4,221 times
With barely four months to the end of the current tenure of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governor Liyel Imoke of Cross River State, the All Progressives Congress (APC) says it is still confident it would reclaim the mandate wrongfully given to him in 2011.
According to an APC stalwart in the state, Barrister William Ballantyne, Imoke has been wrongfully enjoying a mandate that rightfully belongs to APC, reminding the PDP that nobody can keep custody of what belongs to another man forever.
Ballantyne said that the judgement of the Federal High Court on suit No FHC/CA/CS/17/2011, filed by Liyel Imoke and 37 others, which compelled the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to include them in the general election of 2011, was flawed. This, he said, was because INEC had earlier disqualified the PDP, to which Liyel Imoke and the other candidates belonged, from participating in the elections as the party did not conduct party primaries as required by the Electoral Act of 2010.
Ballantyne argued that PDP, which was disqualified from contesting the 2011 election, did not appeal against the decision of INEC nor was it party to the suit filed by Liyel Imoke and 37 other candidates.
He asked: “Under which constitutional authority did Liyel Imoke contest the gubernatorial election of 2011, since the Nigerian Constitution does not recognise independent candidacy and his party had also been disqualified by the Electoral Act of 2010, from participating in that election?
“This is why APC is still at the Supreme Court, resolutely praying that the mandate wrongfully given to Governor Liyel Imoke and the PDP in Cross River State, following the suit he filed with 37 other candidates in 2011, should be overturned in favour of the APC, in the interest of justice.”
Ballantyne also alleged that since the matter moved from the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court, there had been a deliberate delay in listing it for hearing. The situation, he said, changed with the appointment of the new Supreme Court Justice, Mahoud Mohammed, who ordered that all election matters should be heard before next month’s general elections.
Ballantyne showed News Express a reminder letter to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, dated 20th October, 2014, written by City Solicitors, representing APC in the matter. The letter reads in part:
“We are constrained to bring to your attention, the road blocks we are encountering with regards to appeal filed by us on 11th July, 2013.
“Eventually we were given a date for hearing on Monday, 12th May, 2014, after several months. On the said date, the justices were inclined to hearing only the motion for substitution of parties despite our readiness to argue the appeal on that day. The honourable justices asked that we take another date for hearing of the appeal. Since then, despite several visits and calls to the registry, our application for hearing date has not been granted.”
According to Ballantyne, it was only after the letter, which he described as a clarion call, that the Supreme Court finally gave 10th December, 2014 for hearing the matter, only for it to be once more rescheduled for March 30 this year. He said that he smells an intention from high quarters to frustrate the matter, asking: “What sense does it make for the court to adjourn the case to March 30th, 2015, when elections are slated for February this year?”
Even so, Ballantyne said that in spite of the frustrations, he still believes that with the fairness and business-like disposition of the present CJN, APC can still gain victory in the matter before the expiration of Governor Imoke’s tenure on May 28, 2015; the reason why he told News Express emphatically: “We would pursue this matter relentlessly.”
•Photo shows Governor Imoke.
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