Lukman Olabiyi, Lagos
The National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Uche Secondus, and some members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) appeared before the Lagos State High Court, Igbosere, on Monday to stop committal proceedings against them.
Justice Taofikat Oyekan-Abdullahi had on December 5, 2019, ordered the PDP Chairman and a member of the NWC of the party, Senator Ben Obi, to show cause why an order for committal should not be made against them.
The judge said that Secondus and Senator Obi should come and explain why they should not be committed to prison for defying its order.
The verdict was as a result of alleged disobedience to the court’s order of November 12, 2019, which restrained Secondus and the party’s NWC from conducting a special election for the vacant offices at the Lagos State chapter of the party.
Then, while ordering the contemnors to show cause for defiling its order, Justice Oyekan-Abdullahi expressed dismay that the PDP in Lagos state proceeded to conduct the aforesaid special election despite the knowledge of the case and pending application for interlocutory injunction.
The special election committee was chaired by Senator Obi at the instance of Secondus.
At Monday’s proceedings, Francis Akinlotan appeared for all the claimants as counsel, with Emmanuel Enoidem and Wendy Kuku appearing for the respondents.
The four claimants in the suit are Dr Adegbola Dominic, for state chairman of the party, Elder John Babatunde Agbaje, Alhaji Fatai Ajisefinni and Chief Taiwo Kuye.
The respondents are the PDP, Senator Obi, Senator Biodun Olujimi, Hon Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, Hon Danladi Baidu Tijo, Ahmed M Mukthar and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Akinlotan, who appeared for the claimants, informed the court of his clients’ pending applications seeking for extension of time to their written addresses, and also to reply the Preliminary Objection filed by the respondents, adding that he was ready to move the applications if the court granted him leave.
The judge asked Enoidem, who appeared for 1-6 respondents, and Kuku, who appeared for the INEC, the 7th respondent, if they have objections. The respondents did not object and the court granted to move the applications, which was granted as prayed.
The claimants’ lawyer also informed the court that the contemnors on Friday evening served him an affidavit on their response to contempt proceedings filed against but he was yet to reply to it and he still has time to reply.
He, therefore, urged the court to hear the substantive suit, but the 1-6 respondents’ counsel objected, saying until all the pending applications which include contempt proceedings, the Preliminary Objection and others, the substantive suit could not be heard.
After several arguments on which application to hear first, the judge ruled in favour of the respondents and fixed March 12 to hear the contempt proceedings against the contemnors.