By Samuel Ogundipe
Mr. Nurudeen Balogun, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party in Lagos State, has dragged Mr. Jimi Agbaje, one of the strongest contenders for the governorship position on the platform of the party in the state, to court over eligibility issues, a development that could force the party leadership to change its calculations ahead of the statewide primaries scheduled to hold on December 8.
In his litigation, filed at the Lagos State High Court in Ikeja, Balogun urged the court to prevail on the party and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to stop Agbaje from contesting in the party’s primaries because he (Agbaje) officially joined the party in July of this year. The PDP and INEC are second and third defendants in the suit respectively.
Balogun alleged that Mr. Agbaje’s membership of the PDP is yet to be regularised, and no waiver has been granted to him by the party to contest in its primaries.
An accompanying affidavit deposed by Balogun through his counsel, Clement Onwuenwunor and John Itodo, stated that, “In accordance with Section 50 (9) of the second defendant’s (PDP) Constitution, only aspirants with minimum of two years membership span shall be eligible to stand for election into any public office under its platform.
“That the first defendant (Agbaje) herein who only joined the second defendant, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in July of 2014, wishes to contest for the governorship election under the platform of the second defendant, the PDP.
“That as at today, the 26th day of November, 2014 the first defendant is barely four months old as a legitimate card carrying member of the second defendant.”
Balogun, who gave his party’s membership number as 122488, further urged the court to grant all prayers sought expeditiously because the party’s primaries hold on December 8.
Reacting to the lawsuit, Mr. Adeniyi Adams, the Director of Organisation of Jimi Agbaje’s campaign, said his principal was unfazed by what he described as a “frivolous” lawsuit.
“Mr. Balogun’s suit is both frivolous and inconsequential because Agbaje has been in the party for well over two years. His membership card dated back to early 2012,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Koro Campaign Organisation, KCO, has announced a new date for the official declaration of Senator Musiliu Obanikoro to contest for the position of governor on PDP platform.
The campaign organisation of Obanikoro, former Nigeria’s High Commissioner to Ghana and immediate-past Minister of Defence (State), had previously scheduled last Friday for the event, but said it decided to postpone it to allow party leaders prepare for President Jonathan’s scheduled visit to the South-west this weekend, as well as to enable residents collect their permanent voter cards.
A statement released by Obanikoro’s Special Adviser on Media and a Strategy, Ohimai Amaize, read:
“Senator Obanikoro is ready to unveil his plans of a ‘Greater Lagos’ for the people of Lagos State.
“But in the light of latest developments of a scheduled visit by President Goodluck Jonathan to the South-west and most pressingly, the decision by INEC to resume the issuance of the Permanent Voters Card (PVC) in areas like Alimosho, Agege, Epe, etc, the Koro Campaign Organisation (KCO) has decided to postpone the declaration.
“Obanikoro has answered the call of his people to rescue Lagos State from political and economic bondage and we are very confident that based on his overwhelming goodwill among the people of Lagos, especially the downtrodden masses, as well as his impeccable record in public service, he is the best prepared for the job.”
A lot of people, including fans and political associates, are expected to turn up at the event, themed: “Walk With Me,” which holds at the Tafawa Balewa Square.
In a related development, two PDP governorship aspirants in the state, Ade Dosumu and Adetokunbo Pearse, have now decided to step down and support Senator Obanikoro. The two announced their decision in separate statements to the media.