Uncertainty reigned yesterday over tomorrow’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) convention slated for Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
Though, a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt ordered that security be provided for the convention; another Federal High Court in Abuja suspended it.
Justice Ibrahim Watila of Port Harcourt ordered the convention to go on because there was nothing before him seeking otherwise, but Justice Okon Abang of Abuja suspended the convention because it was being planned in disobedience of his order.
Justice Watila ordered acting Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Ibrahim Idris, Commissioner of Police Francis Mobolaji Odesanya and Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS) Lawal Musa Daura to ensure “adequate security at the meeting”.
He also directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to monitor the convention.
PDP is expected to elect its national officers at the convention.
The party on May 21 held parallel conventions in Abuja and Port Harcourt. The events ended in crisis. Rather than the proposed election, the party settled for a caretaker committee led by Senator Ahmed Makarfi. But Makarfi has since been embroiled in a battle of supremacy with Acting National Chairman Senator Ali Modu-Sheriff.
Justice Watila’s orders followed a motion brought by Convention Planning Committee secretary Senator Ben Obi for an order to compel the Police, the DSS and INEC to do their jobs anytime the convention is to hold.
Ruling on the motion on notice, with number FHC/PH/585/2016, Justice Watila said: “The defendants are hereby mandated to provide security for the national convention of the PDP scheduled to hold in Port Harcourt on Wednesday, August 17, 2016 or any other date and venue, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice or the originating summons as the honourable court may decide.
”INEC is mandated to monitor the national convention of the PDP scheduled to hold in Port Harcourt on Wednesday, August 17, 2016 or any other date and venue, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice or the originating summons as the honourable court may decide.”
The defendants were not represented in court.
The judge ordered that the police, DSS and INEC be served by substituted means through their respective offices in Port Harcourt.
He said the July 4 judgment of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt that recognised the May 21 national convention which produced the Makarfi-led caretaker committee has not been appealed against or set aside, hence it behoves the court to protect that judgment.
Justice Watila held that there was no injunction stopping the convention brought to his notice during the hearing of Obi’s application.
He adjourned the case to today for hearing of the originating summons.
In Abuja, Justice Abang granted an interim order suspending plans for the convention, pending the hearing and determination of a motion on notice for injunction filed by the plaintiffs.
The case was filed by Ali Modu Sheriff and other members of PDP National Working Committee (NWC).
The substantive suit was filed before the court’s vacation and was assigned by the Chief Judge to Justice Abang.
The plaintiffs’ July 20 motion for injunction is seeking, among others, an order restraining INEC from monitoring the convention
The motion was slated for hearing on July 28 after the plaintiffs obtained the court’s leave for the motion on notice to be heard during its long vacation.
But it was not heard because of a motion for joinder filed by Senator Makarfi and six other members of his committee.