- Again, Justice Abang rules against event
Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday granted an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, from conducting its National Convention until September 7.
Justice Okon Abang ordered the party not to sponsor any candidate to be elected into any of its national offices pending the determination of the suit filed by the Ali Modu Sheriff-led faction of the party.
The judge equally issued an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, from monitoring the convention of the party scheduled to hold in Port Harcourt tomorrow.
He directed the Inspector General of Police to enforce the orders until all the applications pending before the court were disposed off.
Justice Abang asked the plaintiffs to issue and serve Form 48 on all the defendants, even as he vowed to take disciplinary measures against any of them who failed to comply with the orders.
The court also barred the PDP from holding the convention so as not to run foul of the law and risk imprisonment for disobeying court order.
“Failure to comply with the orders will attract disciplinary action against any of the parties; so far the plaintiffs know what to do,” Justice Abang added.
In the same vein the judge directed Senator Modu Sheriff to obtain and fill form 48 so as to commit anybody or group who might disobey the order to prison.
Justice Abang took a swipe at justice Ibrahim Watila of the Port Harcourt Division of the court for dabbling into the PDP matter when he knew that a sister court was on the matter.
The judge said that Justice Watila would have done well to refer the suit filed by Senator Ben Obi, a member of the PDP Caretaker Committee, to the chief judge of the Federal High Court for a directive instead of assuming jurisdiction.
Apparently furious with the conflicting decisions of the two divisions, Justice Abang said that the “Port Harcourt Division has set a stage for the legal combatants to determine which of the decisions to obey.
He, however, said that anyone who flouted his orders would have themselves to blame.
Speaking on the alleged disparaging remark by a member of the factional caretaker committee of the PDP, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, Justice Abang said his behaviour was an act of indiscipline unbecoming of a person with good culture.
“Anybody scandalising the court of law without any reason is breaking the bridge he will cross one day. He is like a person living in a glass house and throwing stones.
“I have various legal steps to bring him to book but I will not do so for now. The lenient attitude of this court is not borne out of cowardice. He should show good manners to the court so that he can assist the court to do justice.
“The day I will summon him to appear before me and how court operates, I believe he will have a rethink.”
He subsequently adjourned hearing on the substantive suit till September 7.
Court in Rivers still gives a nod to convention
However, Justice Ibrahim Watila of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, has again given the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, backing to go ahead with its National Convention in Port Harcourt.
Justice Watila, who delivered judgement on an originating summon in Suit No. FHC/PH/CS/585/2016 file by Senator Ben Obi for himself and on behalf of other members of the National Convention Planning Committee of the PDP, stated that his judgement of Monday, August 15, 2016, on the PDP Convention remained.
The trial judge averred that the judgement on originating summon filed by Senator Obi and delivered by Justice M. Liman, also of Federal High Court, Port Harcourt, which upheld the removal of the former acting national chairman of the party, Alhaji Modu Sheriff, and recognised the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee of the party, had not been set aside.
Justice Watila further held that Senator Obi, who is secretary of the Caretaker Committee, had approached the court to give an order for the first, third and fifth defendants to be involved in the scheduled National Convention of the party, as the tenure of the committee expired after 90 days.
He ruled: “It is necessary for the defendants to carry out their respective functions at the August 17, 2016 convention.
“This court will not shy away from protecting the sanctity of its judgement. The court has held that the appointment of the PDP National Caretaker Committee is valid.”
Justice Watila also averred that the defendants were bound by the judgement because they had made no attempt to set it aside or filed any process in that regard.
“In view of the subsisting judgement of this Honourable Court in Suit No. FHC/PH /CS /524/2016, PDP V. Senator Ali-Modu Sheriff and others, the defendants cannot lawfully interfere or prevent the plaintiff from organising/ holding the planned National Convention of the PDP to hold in Port Harcourt on August 17, 2016,” he said.
In granting the originating summons, Justice Watila declared that the defendants were duly served all the processes of the suit filed by the secretary of the National Caretaker Committee, but they (defendants) chose not to contest the facts.
Justice Watila stated that court records indicated that the proceedings and order of August 10, 2016, and the interlocutory injunction of August 15 were served on the defendants with proof of service.
Addressing journalists shortly after the judgement, counsel to Senator Obi, Barrister Dejo Lamikanra (SAN) said the ruling gave effect to the judgement of July 4, 2016, by the Federal High Court.
Convention goes on – PDP
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has vowed that its National Convention billed for today, despite conflicting court rulings, holds as scheduled.
Making the declaration during the pre-convention press briefing yesterday in Government House, Port Harvourt, Rivers State governor and chairman of the National Planning Committee, Chief Nyesom Wike noted that the PDP was merely obeying court order, not violating it.
Governor Wike also stated that the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt further ruled that the previous convention, which produced Alhaji Ahmed Makarfi, was legal, stating that all were ready for the convention.
Disclosing the visit by members of the Board of Trustees of the party, he explained it was a mark of commitment of the party leadership to the convention.
“All the governors and other leaders of the party are here, and all is set for the event. So the convention holds tomorrow as scheduled,” Wike said.
Wike also debunked the allegation that he with the Ekiti State governor, Mr Ayo Fayose wanted to impose some candidates on the party
“My primary interest as the National Convention chairman is to ensure successful event. Chief Fayose and I do not have such capacity, because the entire states are involved.”
He also promised that the lingering crises in the party would be over soon.
“In other parties, people defect from the party that lost at the centre, but in our own case, members are tripping to us because we are the hope of the nation.”
It would be recalled that the PDP National Convention has witnessed several court cases since the last general elections.
Only PDP Nat’l CTC has Executive power – FHC
Federal High Court in Port Harcourt has declared that the National Caretaker Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is the executive authority in all matters concerning the party.
Delivering a judgement on Suit Number FHC/PH /CS /585/2016 between Senator Ben Obi for himself and other members of the National Planning Committee of the PDP and the Inspector-General of Police, the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Department of State Services and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Justice Ibrahim Watila ordered the Police, DSS and INEC to participate in the August 17, 2016, National Convention.
He declared that, “It is necessary for the defendants to carry out their respective functions at the 17th August, 2016 convention.”
The court declared that its judgement of July 4, 2016 remained valid until set aside by a competent jurisdiction, which in this case is the Court of Appeal.
The court stressed that all the defendants were clearly and without dispute bound to obey the judgement.
“This court will not shy away from protecting the sanctity of its judgment. The court has held that the appointment of the PDP National Caretaker Committee is valid,” he said.
Justice Watila stated that the defendants are bound by the judgment because they have made no attempt to set aside the judgment or filed any process in that direction.
He stated: “In view of the subsisting judgment of this Honourable Court in Suit No. FHC/PH /CS /524/2016, PDP V. Senator Ali-Modu Sheriff and others, the defendants cannot lawfully interfere or prevent the Plaintiff from organising /holding the Planned National Convention of the PDP to hold in Port Harcourt on August 17th, 2016.”
In granting the originating summons, Justice Watila declared that the defendants were duly served all the processes of the suit filed by the secretary of the PDP National Caretaker Committee, but chose not to contest the facts.
Justice Watila stated that court records indicated that the proceedings and order of August 10, 2016, and the interlocutory injunction of August 15, 2016, were served on the defendants with proof of service.
Addressing journalists after the judgement, counsel to Senator Obi, Barrister Dejo Lamikanra (SAN) said the ruling gave effect to the judgement of the Federal High Court on July 4, 2016.
Lamikanra said “there is only one judgment with regards to the validity of the convention which held on the 21st of May in Port Harcourt and that Judgment is the judgment of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt given on the 4th of July. That judgement is final and it has completely determined questions on the validity of the convention and the validity of the decisions of that convention.
“A ruling or an opinion of a court of coordinate jurisdiction which suggests anything else must be discontinuanced. It is only the Court of Appeal that can set aside the judgement of the Federal High Court.”
Convention: PDP Screens Bode George, Dokpesi, 55 Others
Former governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam, who is the chairman of PDP National Convention Screening Committee, has said that the committee would screen 57 aspirants who bought forms to contest for positions in the party.
Suswam made the information known in Port Harcourt on Monday at the commencement of the screening preparatory to the party`s national convention holding on Wednesday.
He said that the exercise was going on satisfactorily.
The committee has screened aspirants for the post of national chairman, including a former deputy national chairman of PDP, Chief Bode George.
The others are a former Minister of Education, Prof. Tunde Adeniran, and a former chairman of DAAR Communications Plc, Chief Raymond Dokpesi.
It was learnt that the aspirants pledged to accept the outcome of the convention as well as their loyalty to the party towards rebuilding it.
Other members of the screening committee are a former governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, former Imo State governor, Achike Udenwa, former Adamawa governor, Boni Haruna, and a former deputy president of the Senate, Ibrahim Mantu.
Others are Sen. Enyinnaya Abaribe and a former Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Josephine Anenih, as well as Rivers Attorney General, Chief Emmanuel Aguma, who is the secretary. (NAN)