PDP vows to go ahead with convention despite court orders

PDP vows to go ahead with convention despite court orders
August 16 10:28 2016

The Peoples Democratic Party has said it is set to go ahead with its scheduled national convention despite the conflicting court orders that came from Abuja and Portharcourt on Monday.

Addressing journalists in Port Harcourt, following the court judgments, Governor Nyesom Wike, who is Chairman of the PDP National Convention Planning Committee, said the party was backed by law to hold the convention in Portharcourt .

“Let me assure you that as the chairman of the National Convention Planning Committee, we are backed by law and the court that the convention will go ahead.

“The court has recognised the May 21 National Convention before now in its July 4, 2016, judgment.”

Reviewing the developments, the caretaker committee, yesterday, said it would go ahead with the convention on the claim that the order from Port-Harcourt, which it said came earlier, was interlocutory while Justice Abang’s order was interim.

A Federal High Court in Abuja had earlier on Monday
suspended the convention

Justice Okon Abang said he gave
the ruling to serve as a “judicial
deterrent” for what he described
as the “excesses of parties”.

Abang was expected to rule
on an application filed by a
faction of the party led by a
former Kaduna State governor,
Ahmed Makarfi, and a former
senator, Ben Obi.

He had adjourned Monday’s
hearing after granting the
application by the faction.

The judge however took another
decision after a lawyer
representing another faction of
the party led by Ali-Modu Sheriff,
informed him that Mr. Obi had
approached the Port Harcourt
division of the Federal High Court
to obtain an interim injunction.

The injunction compelled the
Independent National Electoral
Commission and security agencies
to take part in the convention.

The judge said the act deserved a
“judicial response”.
“The plaintiff filed a motion on
July 20, being an order
restraining INEC from monitoring
the national convention of PDP
August 17. The court had
adjourned the application to allow
Makarfi and six others to join till
August 15.

“Now that the applicants have been joined as
parties. Opportunities should be given to the
parties to say whether they are opposed to the
application or not. The court was ready to
adjourn to allow the newly joined parties to
prepare their arguments.

“What is shocking is that Senator Ben Obi
obtained an order on August 9 from the PH
division for INEC and the security officers to
provide security for the party in the
convention. The action of Senator Ben Obi is
grossly unacceptable. This is unfortunate and
unfair,” said Mr. Abang.

“Having found that Senator Ben Obi had
obtained an exparte order, there is an urgent
need to take a consequential decision.

Senator
Ben Obi cannot slap the court in the face and
expect the court to adjourn the matter without
making an interim order. Democracy is not
anchored on the whims and caprices of any
persons.

“If we are to uphold the rule of democracy,
nobody is above the law,” he said.
Citing a previous decision of the Supreme
Court, Mr. Abang said the court had
restrained parties from securing self-help, and
maintaining status-quo pending the
determination of any matter before the court
of law.

“Lawyers and politicians must ensure that the
hard earned democracy is protected. The
court is here to ensure that there is no
anarchy. Therefore in the exercise of my
disciplinary jurisdiction, as stated by the
Supreme Court and to maintain the dignity of
the court;
“An order is hereby made in the interim to
suspend the August 17 convention pending
the determination of the application filed on
July 20,” he said.

His judgment came hours after another Federal High Court sitting in Port-Harcourt gave an order compelling the police and the Department of State Services, DSS, to enforce security at the convention ground.

The Federal High Court in Port Harcourt also issued an order compelling the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to monitor the convention which it said should go ahead.

The go-ahead for the convention was given by Justice Ibrahim Watila  in Port-Harcourt.

Delivering a ruling on a motion on notice filed by Secretary of the PDP National Convention Planning Committee, Senator Ben Obi for himself and other members of the National Convention Planning Committee against the Inspector-General of Police; Commissioner of Police, Rivers State, the Department of State Services and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in suit number FHC/ PH/CS/585/2016,  Justice Watila ordered INEC to ensure that it monitors the national convention.

Justice Watila declared that the July 4, 2016 judgment of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt affirmed that the May 21, 2016 National Convention which produced the National Caretaker Committee has not been appealed against   or set aside, hence it behoves   the court to protect that judgment.

The court added that there is no injunction against the holding of the August 17, 2016, National Convention in Port Harcourt brought to the attention of the court during the hearing of the application by Senator Ben Obi.

Justice Watila thus ruled that the police and the DSS should provide security for the convention while INEC was compelled to monitor the proceedings.

The court 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 till August 16, 2016, for the hearing of the originating summons filed by Senator Ben Obi.

Senator Ben Obi told journalists after the ruling that with the granting of the interlocutory injunction, the party had the legal backing to carry on with the August 17  national convention.