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By Chukwudi Abiandu
The candidates of the Prophet Jones Erue faction of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Delta State, slated to contest the 2019 general elections are in the throes of an imminent tsunami that may sweep them all out of contention in the elections if the Federal High Court goes ahead to give judgment in favour of the reliefs sought by Chief Cyril Ogodo.
Indication that the current governorship candidate, Chief Great Ogboru, all the senatorial candidates including former governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, senator Ovie Omo-Agege and Hon. Doris Uboh, all the House of Reps and House of Assembly candidates may lose their tickets came today, January 17, 2019 at the resumed hearing of the case brought against the Erue faction by the faction led by Chief Cyril Ogodo.
Ogodo, the plaintiff, who was in the witness box today for about two and half hours, before Justice T.B. Adegoke of the Federal High Court, Asaba, and led by a team of four experienced lawyers that included lead counsel, O.J. Ogbenejakpor, Roland Ekpe, K.K. Isera and S.O.Adamu, is seeking among about 23 other reliefs, a declaration that he is the authentic state chairman of the APC in Delta State, and that any and every action purportedly taken, initiated or carried out by the fourth defendant, Prophet Jones Erue as chairman of APC (first defendant) by the second defendant (national Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole) in Delta State following his purported inauguration, swearing-in and recognition and/or appointment by the the national Chairman as chairman of APC in Delta State is/and null, void and of no effect.
At the hearing today, all the defendants were absent and without any representation by counsel, leading the Barrister Oghenejakpor on behalf of Ogodo to ask the court to hold the view that the defence has abandoned trial, even as he requested the judge to grant that another notice be served on the defendants to put up appearance by Monday, January 22nd, 2019. It is to enable them to come and cross examine the witness.
Oghenejakpor also requested the judge to order that if they fail to put up appearance as directed by the courtthat the plaintiffs should be allowed to address the court. He then asked the court to discharge Ogodo temporarily from the witness box till when the defence will come for the cross examination.
The court upheld the request of Oghenejakpor and accordingly discharged Ogodo from the witness box, and directed that fresh service be made to the defendants latest by January 18th, 2019, and ordered that they put up appearance in court by Monday, January 22, 2019.
Led in evidence earlier by his lead counsel, Barrister Oghenejakpor, Ogodo the only witness called said that at the Delta state APC congress held in May 2018, he emerged as the state party chairman. That the state congress election committee sent from the National headquarters of the party that returned him gave him a report that proclaimed him as duly elected, and which report he tendered in court and marked Exhibit A and B.
Ogodo said that the national working committee of APC set up an appeal committee for the state to look into the petitions, and that the appeal committee upheld his election and submitted same to the NWC. He said that the original report of the third defendant, but pointed out that he had a copy of the report which contained the summary of the results of the state congress bearing Cyril Abeye Ogodo as chairman, APC Delta State, and 35 others that make up the state executive committee. The report was tendered as exhibit.
Lead counsel applied to the court that because of the voluminous nature of the documents, that the court should consider them as read.
Ogodo also referred to Vanguard publication of May 19th, 2018, to the effect that the postponement of the state congress from May 19th, 2018 to May 28th May, 2018 was contained therein. The copy of the newspaper was tendered as exhibit.
He said also that the executives of the wards, local governments were the delegates to the state congress election. He confirmed that there is an original list of the delegates to that convention, and acknowledged that there is such a list. This was sought to be tendered and was marked Exhibit O.
Similarly, he said that the result of the 25 local governments was submitted to the first defendant, and a copy was tendered as exhibit as well as the letter appointing the Hon. Emmanuel Shinda APC congress election committee was also tendered.
Ogodo said that the second defendant (Adams Oshiomhole) took the fourth defendant (Jones Erue) to Abuja and swore him in as Delta State chairman of the APC. And that he (Ogodo) was not removed as the APC chairman, neither was any letter to that effect given to him till date. He said that the first defendant (APC) released a guideline for the conduct of the primary elections. He said also that the first defendant (APC) approved indirect primaries for Delta State to elect candidates for the 2019 general elections. The copy of the guideline for primaries election was tendered in court as exhibit Q.
Ogodo again told the court that by virtue of his election that his tenure as chairman having been sworn-in of June 1st, 2018. He said that by virtue of the party’s constitution and the party guidelines, that it is he, Ogodo, that he has the authority to constitute 90 per cent of the Electoral College for the primaries to elect the governor, Senate, House of Reps, and the state House of assembly candidates for Delta APC.
“I felt aggrieved and came to this court,” Ogodo said. He said that the second defendant (Adams Oshiomhole) tried to use the fourth defendant (Prophet Jones Erue) to draw a list of candidates who will contest the 2019 elections on APC platform.
He recalled that this court made an order on October 17th, 2018 that all parties to the dispute should maintain the status quo. A certified True Copy copy of the court order was tender was also tendered and marked Exhibit T.
Chief Ogodo said Mefor Progress from the national office who we sent to conduct the primaries with two signed across the result list. He said that exhibits S and T contain the authentic list of the APC candidates in Delta State to contest the 2019 election. “The defendants are saying that there is a consent judgment in Abuja which took over his position as chairman of the party, but that he was not aware of such a judgment because he was never served,” Ogodo said, pointing out that he was not a party to the process in the case; that he did not sign any consent with anybody and that he was never given any book to sign.
He told the court that Chief John Oyegun, the former national Chairman of APC swore to an affidavit disowning any such consent judgment. He said he obtained a certified True copy of the Oyegun affidavit. He identified the affidavit when shown and he tendered it as exhibit.
Answering a question from Justice Adegoke, Chief Ogodo said: “I am adopting the reliefs as contained in my pleadings.”
The court then adjourned till January 22, 2019 for the defendants to cross examine Chief Cyril Ogodo.