- PDP in Disarray ahead of August 17th National Convention
- PDP insists on going o =n with the convention
- Justice Okon Abang Threatens to go after people who will monitor the convention
The Peoples Democratic Part (PDP) has been in a field of controversy since the 2015 presidential election which removed them from power and installed Muhammadu Buhari as the president, but the recent cases over the leadership of the party which as seen a heavy fight between the party’s former national chairman and former APC member, Ali Modu Sheriff has totally destabilized the party.
Following the announcement of the date for the party’s national convention slated for August 17th, 2016, the fight has gone from word of mouth to court rulings.
On July 28th, 2016, a High Court sitting in Abuja presided over by Justice Okon Abang nullified the ruling of Port Harcourt High Court recognizing the caretaker committee. According to Adeyeye, the motion seeking to restrain the PDP from conducting the proposed Aug. 17 national convention has not been heard by the court and no date has been fixed for the hearing of the same.
“What was before the court yesterday was the issue of who is the authentic legal counsel for the PDP as between Ferdinand Orbih and O. O. Fakunle.” The court in determining the question of legal representation held that the appointment of O. O. Fakunle by Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff was acceptable to the court.
The Abuja High Court ruling, which came to the PDP loyalists as a shock and seemed to be a set back in installing a new leadership to lead the party to the 2019 general elections, was faulted by another high court in Port Harcourt.
In the ruling, the court granted the reliefs sought by members of the National Convention Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to hold its convention in Port Harcourt on August 17th.
The presiding judge, Justice Ibrahim Watila, in the interlocutory injunction also directed the security agencies mentioned in the suit to provide adequate security for the event and also asked INEC to be present.
Meanwhile, the Governor of Rivers State, who is also the Chairman of the Convention Planning Committee, Nyesome Wike, told reporters that with the decision of the court, the party was set for the convention.
He described the request by factional Chairman of the party, Senator Ali-Modu Sheriff, for him to step down as baseless.
The factional Chairman of the party, Senator Sheriff had approached the Federal High Court, Abuja for an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the party from conducting the national convention.
He also wanted an order that would restrain the PDP from presenting anybody or sponsoring any person for election into its offices pending determination of the suit.
He asked for an ancillary order directing the Nigerian Police to enforce the orders of the court until all applications are disposed of.
While this was going on, the Ahmed Makarfi-led PDP approached an FCT High Court challenging the power of Justice Okon Abang to hear the suit filed by Senator Sheriff.
They specifically asked the court to restrain Justice Abang on the grounds that there is a circular from the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court restraining all judges handling PDP leadership tussle cases to stop further action pending the outcome of the appeals before the appellate court .
But the prayers were not granted by Justice Olukayode Adeniyi, who held that the application lacks merit, as the applicant who is listed as PDP is not a natural person as such not entitled to any fundamental human rights.
Sttill planning the convention, the PDP team of learneds were busy fighting the Abuja High Court ruling, but just a day to the convention, the Abuja High Court once again bared the IGP, INEC and other relevant bodies to desist from monitoring the convention.
In the ruling on August 17th 2016, Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja re-affirmed his Monday’s interim order stopping the Peoples Democratic Party from going ahead with its plan to conduct its national convention slated for Wednesday.
The judge on Tuesday turned the interim order into an interlocutory injunction that will subsist till the time the substantive suit is heard and determined.
He adjourned the hearing of the case till September 7, and gave a stern warning to the Chairman and Secretary of the Independent National Electoral Commission, not to monitor the planned convention.
The judge, who faulted the decision of the Port Harcourt Division of the Federal High Court to assume jurisdiction on the case relating to the PDP convention, also directed that his order be endorsed with Form 48 (Notice of disobedience of court order) and served on the INEC chairman and secretary.
He said failure by INEC or any of the defendants to comply with his order “will attract disciplinary action” provided “the plaintiffs know what to do.”
He made the order after the plaintiffs, comprising the factional National Chairman of the PDP, Ali Modu Sheriff and others moved their motion praying for the interlocutory order on Tuesday.
The judge held that the motion was not opposed as the respondents, including members of Ahmed Makarfi-led caretaker committee of the party, failed to file a counter-affidavit opposing the motion.
He said the Makarfi-led caretaker committee members who were only on Tuesday joined as the third to the ninth respondents adopted strategy of not filing counter-affidavit but other processes that were not found in the court file.
“They must sink and float with their legal strategy,” the judge ruled.
Justice Abang said the request for an adjournment by their counsel, Mr. Yunus Ustaz (SAN) and Chief Ferdinand Orbih (SAN), asking for an adjournment after the plaintiffs’ counsel, Chief Adeniyi Akintola (SAN), had moved his motion was an afterthought.
Counsel for the PDP, Mr. Olagoke Fakule (SAN) and that of INEC, Alhassan Umar, did not oppose the application.
The judge ruled, “In any case, the plaintiffs’ application is not opposed by any of the parties. The law must take its course. The facts placed before this court are unchallenged by the respondents when they had the opportunity to do so. The facts deposed to by the plaintiffs are credible.”
The judge blamed the Port Harcourt division of the Federal High Court for the conflicting orders that had so far been issued by him and from Port Harcourt.
Justice Abang said the Chief Judge, Justice Ibrahim Auta, having first assigned the case relating to PDP convention to him as far back as July 4, the Port Harcourt division ought to have drawn the CJ’s attention to the a case later filed with respect to the same subject matter.
Reacting to the news, PDP, through an official statement published on its Twitter hand, stated that the convention will continue despite the ruling by the High Court, as long as the other ruling by another Federal High Court siting in Port Harcourt is still valide
(INSERT Twitter feeds)
Who is not right?
The recent development and rulings by the two Federal High Courts has made people to ask questions about the independency of the Nigeria judiciary system and how it’s being runed.
The PDP has two leaders, both of whom are powerful former governors:
- Ahmed Makarfi, a former governor of Kaduna – his faction is in favour of the convention
- Ali Sheriff, a former governor of Borno – his faction is against it and he views it as an attempt to oust him after falling out with some key players in the party.
All efforts to reconcile the two powerful camps have so far failed.
It is a sad state of affairs for a party which ruled Nigeria for 16 years until losing elections last year.
It also means that with so much infighting, the country’s main opposition is not focused in its job of holding President Muhammadu Buhari’s government to account.
Additional reports by Kunle Oyelewo and other agencies
SOURCE: The Bloomgist