From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The crisis rocking the Ebonyi State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has shifted to the Abuja division of Federal High Court were the gladiators have filed multiple petitions accusing officials of the court of engaging in acts capable of undermining the suit bordering on the crisis.
The two separate petitions were filed by the Fred Udeogu led Caretaker Committee of the Party as well as the Onyekachi Nwebonyi led sacked state executives of party.
The Fred Udeogu led Caretaker committee have dragged the Onyekachi Nwebonyi dissolved state executives of the party before the Abuja division of the Federal High Court, in suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/ 1609/2020.
Listed as defendants in the suit are Onyekachi Nwebonyi, for himself and as representing members of the dissolved Ebonyi State PDP Executive Committee.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, had on the December 16, 2020, granted an order, directing that the originating processes and all other subsequent processes in the suit be served on the 1st -3rd Defendants by substituted means, by pasting same at the gate of Osborne La Palm Hotel, Abakiliki.
However, the plaintiffs said even after the court order had been complied with, the defendants returned to the court claiming that they were yet to be served.
The plaintiff insisted that the Bailiff of the Federal High Court, who went to serve the court process was arrested by the security at the hotel despite the fact that he showed his ID card as officer of court and also presented the order of the court to the said security who subsequently released him.
They further claimed that the processes were served by pasting at the gate of Osborne La Palm Hotel as directed by the Court, and pictures of the Bailiff of the court taken, while he was pasting the processes at the gate of the Hotel. Despite the service of the Originating Summons on the 1st -3rd Defendants, and their awareness of the pendency of the suit, they neglected to appear before the court, as they had so much confidence that they will muscle their way through and get ready made judgment from the High Court of Ebonyi State under the governor who just decamped to APC.
It was only when it became clear to them that they could not force the High Court of Ebonyi State into doing their ungodly bidding, that they now resurfaced at the Federal High Court Abuja, claiming ignorance of the court processes.
But in a petition dated February 15, 2021, Onyekachi Nwebonyi accused the bailiff of the court, Victor Jonathan of perjury by claiming that the processes of the court was served on him as ordered by the court.
In the said petition which was addressed to the Chief Registrar of the court, titled ” An appeal for Investigation of Bailiff Victor Jonathan’s false affidavit of service” Nwebonyi, through his counsel, Roy Nwaeze called for the investigate the deposition to the said affidavit of service by the bailiff.
It is the claim of the petitioner that the court bailiff, Victor Jonathan, “perjured by falsely alleging service of the court processes on December 21, 2020, on the 1st -3rd defendants (without travelling to Abakaliki), same day he also served same processes on the 4th and 5th defendants in Abuja.
That “an affidavit of service was filed in the suit by a bailiff, one Victor Jonathan, to the effect that he served the 1st -3rd defendants the processes in the above suit by pasting or dropping same at the gate of Osborne Hotel, Abakaliki, even when he never travelled to Abakaliki.”
But on his part, the Chairman of the Caretaker committee of the party, Fred Udeogu, accused the Chief Registrar of the court, Emmanuel Gakko of ” obstruction of the course of Justice and conduct likely to undermine the integrity and jurisdiction of the court.”
The petition dated February 19, 2021 and addressed to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho, claimed that the setting up of a panel to investigate the bailiff, while the motion challenging service was yet to be heard and determined by the court is an attempt to undermine the job of the case.
“It is on record that Chief Onyekachi Nwebonyi, through Roy Nwaeze, the brother to the governor of Ebonyi State, denied ever having any meeting at the said Osborne La Palm Hotel, Abakiliki, in their motion asking the court to set aside the service on them. The Hon Fred Udeogu-led Caretaker Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party in Ebonyi State, filed counter to the motion on notice, filed by Roy Nwaeze, to set aside the interlocutory order against his clients, and service of the court processes on them.
“Rather than wait for the motion to be heard and a determination made by the court, the same Roy, changed course and resorted to attacking the innocent bailiffs of the court.
While the motion filed by Roy Nwaeze the governor’s brother was subsisting and pending in court, he muscled his way through the Chief Registrar of the Federal High Court, Mr. Emmanuel Gakko, and made false accusations against the Bailiffs of the court, to the effect that the court processes served on the 1st -3rd Defendants, by the Bailiffs of the court, were no longer served.
It is unfortunate that the Chief Registrar of the Federal High Court, whom we understand had previous grouse against the Bailiff who served the court processes, took advantage of the situation to immediately set up a committee to try the said Bailiff in accordance with the dictates of Roy Nwaeze the governor’s brother.
It is unfortunate that the Chief Registrar of the Federal High Court, who himself is a lawyer, could not wait for the determination of the motion filed by the same Roy Nwaeze, challenging the service of the process of the court, on the 1st -3rd Defendants, before rushing, due to his animosity against the said Bailiff, and pressure by Roy Nwaeze, to set up a panel to try the Bailiff.
“The action of the Chief Registrar of the Federal High Court was done in bad faith, and undermines the integrity and jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, before whom the same issue has been brought for adjudication.
Meanwhile, investigation by Daily Sun has revealed that the Chief Registrar of the Court, Emmanuel Gakko, had upon receipt of the first petition by Onyekachi Nwebonyi, set up a three-man member facts finding committee to investigate and verify the claims contained therein.
That the committee which was given 14 days to complete it’s assignment, invited bailiff and confronted him with the allegations raised against him in the petition.
“The purpose of the committee, which is purely administrative, is to hear from the bailiff if the allegations against him are true or false.
“The Chief Registrar only played his administrative role. At the end of the day, the matter will still go back to the court for the presiding Judge to make his findings as to whether there was proper service or not.”
“As a fact finding committee, it cannot for now take punitive measures against the bailiff until the court finds him culpable.”