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Unseating Bayelsa Governor, Deputy, and Timi Alaibe’s Love for Legal Suicide

By William Jumbo

Former boss of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Chief Timi Alaibe’s bid to use the Supreme Court to unseat the Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri and his Deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo is a legal exercise certain to end in futility, if his trajectory in the courts is anything to go by.

Recall that Timi Alaibe’s latest legal Oddessy began when he dragged the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Senator Douye Diri, then PDP Governorship candidate, to the Federal High Court, Yenagoa, challenging
the legality of the party’s primary election held on 3rd September, 2019. His disagreement was with the conduct of the adhoc delegates’ election which produced the three-man delegates. He also challenged the inclusion of
the then newly elected councilors, chairmen and their deputies as delegates.

However, after a Federal High
Court sitting in Port Harcourt and a Bayelsa State High Court declined jurisdiction and dashed his hopes of stopping the primary election, left in the cold like a rain-beaten chicken, Alaibe decided to participate in the election.

Sadly, after spending millions of dollars to buy up the delegates, Alaibe still lost.

After his monumental loss at the PDP primaries, Alaibe, quite unfortunately, joined forces with the All Progressives Congress (APC) a party he dumped less than a year earlier, to rejoin PDP for the sake of winning her governorship ticket.

Interestingly, after teaming up with APC, Alaibe yet again returned to the Federal High Court, urging the court to nullify the same PDP primary election he lost.

Shortly after filing the suit in September 2019, he abandoned same and began working with opposition elements in the PDP to rig the governorship election in favour of APC. Chief Timi Alaibe was among the many PDP chieftains, including some former deputy governors of the state, who on February 13, 2020, stormed Yenegoa as “Special Guests of Honour” for the swearing-in of the APC-led government of David Lyon slated for the following day.

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Their joy and celebration was, however, cut short when the Almighty God
the ruler of the universe, performed the greatest miracle of the century by using the Supreme Court to give victory to the PDP.

Overwhelmed by shame and ignominy, and with tail between legs, Alaibe in March resuscitated the same case he abandoned at the Federal High Court, Owerri. He prayed the court to nullify the PDP primary election to pave way for conduct of a fresh election or that any of the several mushroom parties they’re sponsoring in the Bayelsa governorship election tribunal in Abuja, be declared winner.

Expectedly, Alaibe yet again lost at the Federal High Court, Owerri. Typically dissatisfied with Justice Ringim’s judgment, he rushed to the Owerri Division of the Court
of Appeal.

At the Court of Appeal, Owerri, Alaibe engaged in a legal sommersault. Instead of demanding the nullification of the PDP primary he lost, he, curiously, prayed the court to order fresh primary elections in PDP! This clearly exposed his desperation, mala-fide and treachery.

Already in celebration mood with sponsor – Petro-dollar Junior Minister of Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, three ex-Bayelsa Deputy Governors, and certain
prominent traditional rulers from Ogbia – the Nigeria judiciary again rose to the occasion. Not only did the court dismiss his appeal, but unanimously upheld the cross appeal of the three
Respondents which included the PDP, Governor Douye Diri and representatives of the adhoc
delegates.

Acting like a dog destined for perdition that will not heed the hunter’s whistle, Alaibe has lodged an appeal at the Supreme
Court. Obnoxiously, maliciously and deceitfully, he’s done another Volte-face, seeking entirely fresh reliefs different from the ones he sought at the High Court and the Appeal Court.

Out of malice, he’s praying the Supreme Court to declare him winner of the
PDP primaries and consequently, declare him winner of the Bayelsa State Governorship election
held on November 16, 2019. This is clearly a case of committing legal suicide- and by Ijaw
customs and tradition, whoever commits such sacrilege deserves to be buried in the evil forest. In fact, with this kind of legal rigmarole and inconsistency, even without any defence by the Respondents, Timi Alaibe is most likely going to lose his appeal at the Supreme Court for the following reasons:

First, it is a settled principle of law that parties must be consistent with their claims and case from
the beginning at the trial court to the end at the Supreme Court. Once a party becomes a legal
chameleon – like Chief Timi Alaibe – and allows its case change colour at every stage, the case automatically suffers a dismissal. In the case of ALHAJI IBRAHIM SHEKA Vs ALHAJI
UMARU BASHARI (2003) where his Lordship Justice Abiru JCA, stated that a party is therefore not
permitted to do a total volte-face at the Appeal Court from his case at the trial court. He must be
consistent from the trial court to the last stage of the appeal. This settled principle of the law was
upheld in the case of OZOMGBACHI Vs AMADI ORS. where the erudite Supreme Court Justice
Ejembi Eko JSC. held that the law is settled that a party must be consistent in the case he presents
at the trial court and in the appellate court – his appeal being a continuation on the case at the trial
court. He is not permitted to chop and change his case from one stage to another.
Equally, parties are bound by their pleadings and cannot in the middle of a trial or any stage of the
case change such pleadings. The changes in Timi Alaibe’s reliefs at the Court of Appeal and now,
the Supreme Court which automatically has led to a change of his pleadings, has again dealt a
deadly blow to his case. In fact, the little legal breath left in his case – if there was any – has been
snuffed out by this action of inconsistent reliefs and pleadings.

In the case of LADO & ANOTHER Vs
RT. HON. AMINU BELLO MASARI & 2 ORS (2019), it was held that it is an elementary principle
of law that parties are bound by their pleadings and evidence on matters not pleaded goes to no
issue. Equally see the case of OZOMGBACHI Vs AMADI & ORS where JUSTICE MARY PETER ODILI
JSC. held that it needs be reiterated that parties are bound by their pleadings and no party is allowed
to make a different case from what is set out from inception. So, for the appellants to seek to
depart from their pleadings and embark on a brand new case
is an act in futility. The obvious reason is that a case maintains its original nature from
commencement and the colour cannot change because it is on appeal since an Appeal or appeals are
merely a continuum of that matter that entered for the first time at the court of first instance. Based on the
above settled principles of law, even the most unenlightened Nigerian knows and will agree that
Chief Timi Alaibe’s case at the Supreme court is not only a exercise in futility but a nullity. As the
Nigerian Supreme Court is too erudite and incorruptible to be induced with pecuniary gains to jettison
this long-standing settled principle of Law set by her and has been maintained over the years.
Moreover, it is also a settled principle of equity that a man who has acquiesced can never be heard. Timi Alaibe who complained at the trial court that the ad-hoc delegates who participated in the primary election were illegal, and yet participated, has waived his right to complain about the purported illegality in the exercise.

This principle of law was well established in the case of Sylva VS Dickson, where the Supreme Court stated that a party who has participated in a particular act with the ultimate aim of benefiting cannot come back to complain if the anticipated benefits no longer accrued to him.

Also, the law does not permit blowing hot and cold at the same time. Alaibe cannot complain at the trial court that the primary election was illegal, complain at the Court of Appeal that the exercise be declared a nullity, only to come to the Supreme Court to ask to be declared the winner of the same primary election and be declared governor. That does not only amount to blowing hot and cold, but also chopping and changing his case which has no legal stand as the foundation is inconsistent.

Moreover, with the fourth alteration of the 1999 Constitution as amended, a party who did not
participate in all the stages of an election cannot be awarded an electoral victory by the court. See
the case of MODIBO Vs INEC (2019),where it was held that a party must participate in all the stages
of the election for him to be awarded an electoral victory in the court. In Alaibe’s case, though, he participated in the primaries and lost woefully. However, he did not participate in the general
election as a PDP candidate and therefore cannot be granted the reliefs being sought in that he
be declared winner of the Bayelsa State Governorship election and returned as
Governor.

Therefore, all those gathering money for Alaibe and buying cartons of champagne and charging their
glasses to clink with the wild goose chase hope that the Supreme Court will decide in his favour should realize that Alaibe and his legal team have committed legal suicide. As far
as this case and the law is concerned, it is close to impossibility for the Timi Alaibe case to succeed.

In fact, with the current erudite status of the Supreme Court Justices, they are most likely going to dismiss the appeal without even considering
any defence by the Respondents.

A word, they say, is enough for the wise.
The sponsors of Chief Timi Alaibe should realize that wishes are not horses. Otherwise, beggars would ride.

Jumbo writes from Warri

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