The Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Ndutimi Alaibe’s request for the transfer of his suit against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its governorship candidate in Bayelsa, Douye Diri, has been granted.
Alaibe, also a governorship aspirant in the state, had filed a suit over alleged irregularities and non-adherence to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Electoral Act 2010, during the September 3 governorship primaries in the state.
The Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, granted Alaibe’s request on Tuesday and transferred the case to the Abuja division of the Federal High Court
Presiding Judge of the Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa, Justice Jane Inyang, while announcing her decision to accede to the directive of the CJN, said the decision was based on the Alaibe’s request and dated September 27, 2019, and received by her court on October 10.
According to her, Alaibe’s letter did not question the credibility of the Federal High Court but expressed security concerns in the state.
“I hereby transfer the case,” the judge said.
The court’s decision, which came as a surprise to the defendant’s counsels elicited protest over the alleged secrecy and perceived ambush on the matter.
The PDP National Legal Adviser and counsel to the party, Emmanuel Enoidem and the counsel to the 4th and 5th respondents, Chuks Oguru, kicked against Alaibe’s request, while the counsel to Senator Diri, Barr. Chiemezie V.C. Ihekweazu declined comments on the matter.
Enoidem said: “We came in this morning only to be told that the matter has been transferred due to a letter by Chief Timi Alaibe. We are a bit taken aback at the turn of events and not because we are afraid of the case going to Abuja.
“This is a man who wants to be governor of Bayelsa State and not the governor of the FCT or any other state in Nigeria. And if he is running from Bayelsa, I am afraid what kind of governor the person will make.”
Oguru added: “We should have been put on notice. We find the method of the plaintiff objectionable because parties are not allowed to go forum shopping. If you are sure of your facts, you go to court and argue your case. Anywhere they take us to, we will meet them with concrete facts for facts, jurisprudence for their law and we will match them constitutionality for their own constitutionality.”
Alaibe’s lead counsel, Barr. Ayodele Adedipe, however, said the decision to transfer case to Abuja was that of the plaintiff because he expressed concern about the matter being heard in Yenagoa.
“The CJN found merit in his concern and directed the presiding Judge and acceded to the request,” Adedipe concluded.
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