Tuesday, May 24, 2016 6:11 pm
The crisis rocking the opposition Peoples Democratic Party has grown worse with two courts giving two contradictory rulings.
While Justice Ibrahim Buba at the Federal High Court in Lagos affirmed the interim chairmanship of Senator Ali Modu Sheriff and the National working Committee and executives, another Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has ordered Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff`s led National Executive Committee and National Working Committee to stop parading themselves as leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP).
The two opposing rulings were all delivered today.
In Lagos, Buba declared the recently constituted caretaker committee of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) illegal.
Justice Ibrahim Buba in his ruling ordered the Inspector General of Police to ensure that the members of the committee do not take over the Party’s national headquarters and that Ali Modu Sheriff remains the national chairman of the PDP.
On Saturday, the party’s National Executive Council (NEC) and National Working Committee (NWC) were dissolved and a caretaker committee was set up, which is headed by the former governor of Kaduna State, Ahmed Makarfi.
The motion to dissolve the party’s NEC and NWC was moved by Mr Austin Opara, a former Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives and seconded by Mr Emeka Ihedioha, also a former Deputy Speaker of the house.
Gov. Nyesom Wike of Rivers and Chairman of the party’s National Convention Committee put the question and the motion was affirmed by the delegates.
In Port Harcourt Justice A. Liman gave judicial approval to the action of the Port Harcourt convention.
Liman gave the order following an ex-parte motion filed by the Peoples Democratic Party.
The motion was sworn on behalf of the party by Mr D. Laminkara, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and E. Akwuruoha.
The Inspector General of Police, Independent National Electoral Commission and Department of State Security were joined in the motion.
The court ordered Sheriff and Prof. Adewale Oladapo to stop continuing to hold themselves individually or collectively as chairman or secretary of the party respectively.
The court directed them to stop parading themselves as National Officer or member of the National Executive Committee or National Working Committee as doing so would negate decisions reached at the National Convention on May 21.
It also restrained INEC from according or continuing to accord any recognition to the National Chairman, Secretary and all members of the NEC, NWC who were removed during the convention.
It ordered INEC to recognise the National Caretaker Committee appointed by the Convention as the executive authority of the party to conduct primaries for offices and submission of list of candidates to it.
The court also restrained the Sheriff’s led executive from receiving nominations or submitting names to INEC in any capacity pending the hearing and determination of the motion.
It also ordered the NEC and NWC not to sign any documents in such capacities prior to their removal pending the determination of the motion.
The court fixed hearing on the motion to June 7.
In Lagos, The plaintiffs – Sheriff, National Secretary Prof. Wale Oladipo and National Auditor Alhaji Fatai Adeyanju – prayed the court for an interlocutory injunction restraining PDP from conducting any election into the offices of the National Chairman, National Secretary and National Auditor, which they occupied, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.
Justice Buba said he would not allow his order to be violated without consequences, adding that he had an obligation to ensure his directives were obeyed.
“No court can make an order in vain,” he held.
Oladipo’s and Adeyanju’s lawyer, Ajibola Oluyede, told Justice Buba about an application filed Tuesday in which he prayed the court to invoke its disciplinary powers.
He said: “Certain steps were taken to remove the plaintiffs from their office, notwithstanding your lordship’s interlocutory injunction which restrained the respondents from taking such steps.
“The steps were taken over the weekend to remove them and it was during the pendency of this action. It is for that reason that we were constrained to file this application. We seek your lordship’s disciplinary jurisdiction to bring back matters to the status quo based on the order of May 12.”
Justice Buba said although Oluyede’s application was not ripe for hearing, he was bound to protect the court’s sanctity against violation of its orders.
He said to ignore the flouting of a court order was to invite anarchy.
He quoted Section 287 (3) of the 1999 Constitution, which says: “The decisions of the Federal High Court, a High Court and of all other courts established by this Constitution shall be enforced in any part of the federation by all authorities and persons, and by other courts of law with subordinate jurisdiction to that of the Federal High Court, a High Court and those other courts, respectively.”
The judge added: “Therefore, the Inspector-General of Police is directed to enforce the orders of this court until the order is set aside or all the applications before the court are disposed of.
“Because of the nature of this matter, being political, time is hereby abridged for the hearing of all applications,” he said.
The judge warned the Makarfi-led committee “not to act in that capacity in defiance of this order”.