From Tony John, Port Harcourt, Zika Bobby, Aidoghie Paulinus and Godwin Tsa, Abuja
A legal battle over the impending convention of the People’s Democratic Party PDP] yesterday resulted in confusion as two courts of coordinate powers gave different orders on the matter. A Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, validated the August 17, 2016, National Convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), scheduled to hold in Port Harcourt, directing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to monitor party’s national convention.
The Court also directed the Inspector-General of Police, the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, and the Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), to provide security for the convention.
Justice Watila who presided over the court declared that the July 4, 2016, judgement of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, which recognised the May 21, 2016, National Convention, that produced the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee, has not been appealed against or set aside, hence it behoved the court to protect that judgement.
The court added that there was no injunction against the holding of the August 17, National Convention in Port Harcourt, brought to the attention of the court during the hearing of the application by Senator Ben Obi.
But Justice Okon Abang presiding over a Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday issued an interim order suspending the convention. He explained that the order was in the interest of Justice and to curb the excesses of some parties in the matter. He further explained that it was to serve as disciplinary action against those treating the court with levity.
The Judge made the order following an exparte order obtained by Senator Obi before a Port Harcourt division of the Federal High Court, wherein the Department of the Security, Police, DG DSS, Inspector General of Police (AIG), were restrained from interfering with the Port Harcourt convention. The Judge said Obi, who is Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party as led by Senator Ahmed Markarfi went to Port Harcourt division of the Court to obtain the exparte order when he knew he was a party seeking to be joined in the suit pending before him.
Justice Abang held that Senator Obi cannot undermine the authority of the court, having become aware of the pendency of the matter, he ought to have waited for the outcome of the case.
“He cannot slap the court and expect the court to grant him indulgence. Democracy is not anchored on the whims and caprices of anybody and also not anchored on self help. Ben Obi cannot treat this court with levity.
“It is unfortunate and unfair to approach the Port Harcourt court for an exparte order in his favour.
“To curb the excesses of the recalcitrant party and to prove that courts are not bull dogs that can bark but cannot bite, I am inclined to grant the request of Sheriff and I hereby make an order suspending the PDP convention of August 17, in exercise of my disciplinary jurisdiction to maintain the dignity and integrity of the Court.
But the court in Port Harcourt declared that it found the affidavit tendered by the plaintiff/applicant to be true, pointing out that it was at no point contested by the defendants , even though they were duly served.
Justice Watila adjourned the suit to August 16 , for the hearing of the originating summons filed by Senator Obi.
In an interview after the ruling, Counsel to Senator Obi, Wori Nyeche Wori, said with the granting of the interlocutory injunction, the party has the legal backing to carry on with the August 17, PDP National Convention.
Governor Wike of Rivers state said everything was set for the convention, adding that the judgement on interlocutory injunction showed the PDP has legal backing for the exercise.
Wike also debunked allegation by Alhaji Modu Sheriff that he and the Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose, have hijacked the PDP.
Wike who is Chairman of the PDP National Convention Planning Committee noted that the said suit was filed by the Caretaker Committee against INEC and Security agencies because they were party in the July 4, 2016 Judgment.
The confusion coming from the different court orders still lingers. Justice Abang earlier joined Senators Ahmed Makarfi, Ben Obi, Odion Ugbesia, Abdul Ningi, Mr. Kabiru Usman, Mr. Dayo Adeleye and Aisha Aliyu individually as defendants in suit filed by Amodu Sheriff.