The Chairman of the National Convention Planning Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party and the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, said despite the ruling of a Federal High Court in Abuja, the party’s convention would hold.
Wike described the verdict of the court in Abuja on Tuesday as an interlocutory injunction, adding that a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt had earlier on the same day delivered a judgment that the PDP convention should hold.
The governor explained that the leadership of the PDP was in Port Harcourt, maintaining that nobody could scuttle the democratic process in the party.
“The PDP is ready for its national convention. Based on the court judgment of July 4, 2016, we are going ahead with the convention.
“The judgment of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt today says the national convention should go ahead. We are also aware that the judgment of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt also validates the judgment of July 4, 2016.
“Again, what the Abuja court only gave was an injunction and the court in Port Harcourt gave a judgment that the PDP convention should hold on August 17, 2016,” he said.
Justice Abang had on Tuesday turned the interim order, stopping the PDP national convention, into an interlocutory injunction that would subsist till when the substantive suit was determined.
He adjourned the hearing of the case till September 7, 2016, but gave a stern warning to INEC chairman not to monitor the convention.
The judge also ordered the Inspector-General of Police to enforce his order.
Justice Abang, 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 INEC chairman.
Justice Abang said failure by INEC or any of the defendants to comply with his order would ‘‘attract disciplinary action provided the plaintiffs know what to do.”
He said the Ahmed Makarfi-led caretaker committee members, who were on Tuesday joined as the third to the ninth respondents, adopted a strategy of not filing a counter-affidavit, adding that other processes were not found in the court file.
“They must sink and float with their legal strategy,” the judge said.
Justice Abang said the request for an adjournment by their counsel, Mr. Yunus Ustaz (SAN) and Chief Ferdinand Orbih (SAN), after the plaintiffs’ counsel, Chief Adeniyi Akintola (SAN), had moved a motion for an interlocutory injunction, was an afterthought.
Justice Abang ruled, “ The facts deposed to by the plaintiffs are credible and deserving to be granted the application in the overall interest of justice. I so hold…
“I make the following orders:
“An order of interlocutory injunction is hereby made restraining the defendants (the nine of them), their servants, agents, howsoever named from conducting the national convention of the PDP and from supervising or monitoring same under any guise and for electing any national officer of the (second) defendant (PDP), and for recognising same in any manner whatsoever, pending the determination of the substantive suit.
“An order of interlocutory injunction is, hereby, made restraining the PDP from presenting anybody and from sponsoring anybody for election into its offices and holding national convention, conference, whatever name for the purpose of electing national officers of the second defendant, pending the determination of this suit…
“An order of interlocutory injunction is, hereby, made restraining INEC from monitoring the national convention of the PDP scheduled for Port Harcourt on Wednesday, August 17, 2016, or any other day and from accepting, publishing or recognising, conference or convention howsoever named being planned by the second defendant.
“The Inspector-General of Police shall enforce the order until all applications are disposed of.
“The plaintiffs shall endorse Form 48 and serve all the defendants, especially INEC, to accompany the order.
“Learned counsel for INEC shall inform the chairman of INEC of the court’s decision and failure to comply with the order of the court will attract disciplinary action against any party in disobedience, provided the plaintiffs know what to do.
“Any party that fails to comply with the subsisting order of this court shall have himself to blame. Nobody should bring himself into direct confrontation with this court.”
The judge blamed the Port Harcourt division of the Federal High Court for the conflicting orders.
He said the attitude of his colleague had been condemned by the Supreme Court in 2004.
“This unenviable situation would have been avoided if the judge in the Port Harcourt division of the court had refused to assume jurisdiction over a case filed on August 9 after the Abuja division was already handling a similar case filed in July.
He said, “Therefore, the Port Harcourt division of the Federal High Court cannot make an order neutralising the order made by this court.”
Meanwhile,the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on Tuesday insisted that the July 4, 2016 ruling of Justice M. Liman that removed the former acting National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic People, Ali Modu Sheriff, remained valid.’’
Justice Watila said, “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.
Justice Watila stated that court records showed 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.
Warning that disobedience to court orders could cause anarchy, Justice Watila stated that the National Caretaker Committee of the PDP remained the executive authority in all matters concerning the party.