A gubernatorial aspirant of the Young Progressive Party, Barrister Alexander Asuquo, has slammed a N1billion suit on the Chairman of the party and Senator Bassey Albert jointly and severally for allegedly blocking him from emerging as Akwa Ibom State gubernatorial candidate of the party in the state for 2023 election.
In the suit filed before a Federal High Court in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, YPP, Dr Nyeneime Andy Eno, Senator Bassey Albert and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, were named as 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th defendants respectfully.
The Court, while adjourning till August 30, 2022 for hearing, ordered that court process should be served on the YPP Akwa Ibom State Chairman of Young Progressives Party, Dr. Nyeneime Andy Eno and Senator Bassey Albert, as it was alleged they were evading service.
Barr. Asuquo had dragged Senator Bassey Albert before the court over alleged attempt to inherit the YPP ticket from the party chairman, Dr. Nyeneime Andy Eno.
YPP had earlier submitted to INEC the name of the state party chairman, Dr. Nyeneime Andy Eno, as its governorship candidate.
However, the plaintiff (Barrister Asuquo) is seeking judicial answers to questions bordering on whether the state chairman of the party can validly use his position as the chairman of the party to preserve and reserve the gubernatorial ticket of the party for Senator Bassey Albert (3rd Defendant) who was already an aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Mr. Asuquo, besides challenging the legality of the chairman’s action, is also seeking the order of the court to determine if after filing and submitting a nomination form in PDP Bassey Albert can be validly nominated by YPP in view of the provisions of Section 35 of the Electoral Act 2022.
In an affidavit sworn to by Barrister Asuquo and filed before the court by the law firm of Theodoreville Attorneys & Associates, the plaintiff averred that he is a member of YPP from Uda ward 1 in Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State with registration number 0374. Because of his dissatisfaction with the economic challenges, high rate of unemployment and dearth of visible industries in his state, he aspires to lead the state as its governor come 2023 and commenced consultation accordingly.
When he thought of which political party would best suit his personal political ideology of progressive democracy, he settled with the choice of YPP which had no gubernatorial candidate.
He contacted the party using the number he got from the INEC website and the national structure of the party referred him to his state by giving him the phone numbers of both the party Chairman and the State Secretary whom he contacted immediately.
The State Secretary connected him with his Local Government chapter chairman, one Mr. Emmanuel Anwanadung, who in turn introduced him to the ward chairman and he was able to register as a member of the party on February 2, 2022.
He was officially received into the party on February 11, 2022 by the party chairman at the Party’s Secretariat, 164 Aka Road, Uyo, where he was presented by his chapter chairman. On that day he was officially received into the party, the State Chairman said he should put up a party office in his local government area, a suggestion he considered great and agreed to work on. But he was surprised when towards the end of February 2022, he got to know that the party Chairman instructed party members who were, expected to have him in the party as the gubernatorial aspirant not to promote his aspiration until he carries out the “condition” he gave him.
Since he knew that the condition given to him was unlawful, illegal, unconstitutional and undemocratic, he refused to carry it out.
The unwarranted condition was a ploy with the sole aim of restricting him from participating in the party’s nomination process which the party chairman hijacked to enable him reserve the ticket for Senator Bassey Albert who was as at this material time not only a member of PDP, but also a gubernatorial aspirant under PDP.
The attitude of the party chairman did not augur well with most of his supporters and this led to his losing some of his support base as most confided in him that the party chairman had already secured the party’s gubernatorial ticket for Senator Bassey who he was told the YPP ticket belongs to.
As early as February 2022 when political consultation was at its peak most of the stakeholders he consulted kept telling him about the rumoured Senator Bassey Albert’s stake in the party and why it is not possible for him to secure the ticket under such circumstances.
Sometime in March 2022, he got a call from his Local Government Chapter Chairman, Mr. Emmanuel Anwanadunq informing him that the party chairman called him and asked if it was possible for him to change his mind about contesting for Governor and go for state house of Assembly instead.
He became curious and suspicious as to why the party Chairman would want him to contest for house of assembly when he was already consulting for the office of Governor.
He knew as a fact that the reason the 2nd defendant does not want him to continue with his aspiration and had blocked him from the party members solidarity is because he had an agenda to preserve and reserve the ticket for the third Defendant who was already consulting for the same position on the platform of PDP.
The high point of the illegality was when the State Chairman used his position to purchase an expression of interest and nomination forms for the office of governor after succeeding in blocking him from the party machinery which he hijacked to further his unconstitutional act of reserving the party’s ticket for the 3rd Defendant who is not qualified to fly the Defendant’s flag for the 2023 gubernatorial election.
The Chairman who is the chairman of the state congress, an organ saddled with the responsibility to elect governorship candidate under YPP constitution, ostensibly purchased a nomination form to ward off all other aspirants who may not be inclined to run against him as the State Chairman so that he could eventually relinquish same to the 3rd Defendant.
Asuquo said he strongly believes that the conduct of Dr Nyeneime Andy Eno is unlawful and tantamount to electoral offence. He argued that prior to his purchase of expression of interest and nomination forms, he had never made it known that he was interested in or running for the office of governor of the state. His action which came as a shock to party members was actually done as a decoy for the 3rd Defendant to eventually emerge as the party’s Akwa Ibom State gubernatorial candidate for 2023 election.
This smacks of illegality and gamesmanship which run contrary to the constitution of the Party. He said the attempt to reserve the ticket of the party through the back door for a person who until July 18, 2022 was not a member of the party and had already purchased Nomination of interest form of another party for the same election, in the same year is replete with illegality and deserved to be resisted.
The conduct of the party’s Gubernatorial primary held on June 11 did not comply with the Electoral Act 2022 or in accordance with its guidelines. Dr Nyeneime who was duly elected as the substantive State Chairman on May 28, 2022, a few days to the purported gubernatorial primary, and who has not resigned as the State Chairman of the party cannot validly be an aspirant in the state congress so as to be able to transfer the defective candidacy to the 3rd Defendant in whose interest the 2nd Defendant who has no intention to contest for the office of governor has acted all along as a decoy.
Mr Asuquo averred further that the primary that purportedly produced the 2nd Defendant as the party’s Gubernatorial candidate for Akwa Ibom State was a sham which is tainted with incurable illegalities and constitutional blunders which render it absolutely invalid, illegal and in contravention of both the YPP constitution and the Electoral Act 2022.
The surreptitious plan to substitute the name of the Dr. Nyeneime who had no intention to run for Governor ab initio, but used his position to preserve and reserve the party ‘s Akwa Ibom State Gubernatorial ticket for Senator Bassey Albert, is unconstitutional, illegal, null and void.
He said that Senator Bassey who was already nominated by PDP for the office governor ahead of 2023 can no longer validly nominated by YPP.
Being displeased with the attitude of the Dr. Nyeneime and the illegality of the process, Asuquo wrote a letter of protest and appeal dated July 8, 2022 to the party asking it to look into the illegality, unconstitutionality and invalidity of the conduct of 2nd and 3rd Defendants.
The party ignored his request for it to look into the illegality perpetrated by the 2nd and 3rd Defendants. But on July 15, 2022, after his letter of protest and appeal was served on the party on the 14th of July 2022, the Senator decided to resign his membership of the PDP.
Asuquo said in the interest of justice the court should determine the validity and the constitutionality of the emergence of Senator Bassey Albert as YPP’s Gubernatorial candidate for Akwa Ibom state in the 2023 election in the light of the relevant statutory provisions.
Wherefore Mr Asuquo seeks the following reliefs from the court:
- An order of the court restraining the YPP from submitting the name of Dr. Nyeneime Andy Eno to the INEC as it’s Akwa Ibom state gubernatorial candidate for the 2023 election or substituting same with that of Senator Bassey Albert or other person except the name of the Plaintiff.
- An order of the Court restraining INEC from recognising or accepting the name of Dr. Nyeneime Andy Eno or that of Senator Bassey Albert as the YPP’s gubernatorial candidate for Akwa Ibom State 2023 gubernatorial election.
- An order of the Court compelling YPP to either conduct a fresh primary or submit the name of the Plaintiff to INEC as its Akwa Ibom State gubernatorial candidate for 2023 election.
- General damages in the sum of N1billion against Dr. Nyeneime Andy Eno and Senator Bassey Albert jointly and severally.
- Cost of this suit.