The Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday adjourned till January 16 a suit filed by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members seeking to be permitted to Saturday’s National Convention.
The suit was filed by a member of the PDP National Working Committee, Adewole Adeyanju; Ogun State Youth Leader Femi Alao; “national delegates” for Sagamu and Ijebu North Local Government Areas, Idris Muniru and Chief Tuke Omotara, respectively; Chairman, Ijebu East LGA, Badejo Abiodun; and Chairman, Sagamu LGA, Kola Akinyemi.
They sued for themselves and on behalf of the “PDP Ogun State Delegates to the National Convention.”
The defendants included the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the PDP, the party’s National Caretaker Committee, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, Senator Ben Obi, Tunde Odanye, and 25 others.
The plaintiffs were requesting the court to hold that the PDP National Caretaker Committee could not validly prevent them and other delegates from Ogun State from participating as delegates in the December 9 convention.
According to them, there were subsisting and binding judgments and orders of the Federal High Court in Lagos and Abuja delivered and issued on June 24, 2016 and August 10, 2017.
The plaintiffs said by virtue of the court verdicts, only they were entitled to attend and participate in the PDP convention.
They also urged the court to restrain the PDP Caretaker Committee in Ogun State from usurping the plaintiffs’ functions as “authentic officers of the Ogun PDP Executive Committee” led by led by Chief Adebayo Dayo.
The plaintiffs sought an order of injunction restraining the party leadership or their agents from preventing them from attending the conference.
They further urged the court to nullify the appointment of Mr. Odanye and others as members of the PDP Caretaker Committee in Ogun State, saying their appointment was contrary to a judgment delivered by the court on June 24, 2016.
The plaintiffs further pleaded the court to order the Inspector General of Police, the Department of State Services (DSS) and other security agencies to seal off and close down the secretariat operated by the Caretaker Committee.
On Monday, the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Ajibola Oluyede, said the defendants had filed their counter-affidavits to the plaintiffs’ originating summons and therefore argued that the case should not be adjourned.
“There is no impediment to the hearing of this application. It is a substantive issue relating to the PDP convention scheduled to hold on Saturday. So, it’ll be tidier for this application to be taken.
“The matter is time sensitive. We urge the court to hear this application,” he said.
The PDP’s lawyer, Yemi Oke, urged the court not to hear the application, saying of Mr. Oluyede’s argument, “This type of practice is not encouraging at all.”
He said the issue boiled down to a power tussle between Senator Ali Modu Sheriff and Senator Ahmed Makarfi, which he said the Supreme Court had resolved.
Counsel for the Ogun Caretaker Committee, Afolabi Fashanu, similarly objected, saying, “I’m objecting to the hearing of this application today. As of yesterday, they were still filing further and better affidavits.
“We need to respond by affidavit. We have a preliminary objection which borders on the jurisdiction of this court. In the light of the above, we’ll be craving the court’s indulgence to adjourn the matter,” Mr. Fashanu said.
There was a heated verbal exchange between Mr. Oluyede and Mr. Fashanu following the plaintiffs’ counsels’ bid to have the case heard in view of the soon-to-be-held convention.
Justice Mohammed Idris advised them to “act according to law” and that the “conduct of counsel should be moderate.”
The judge said the plaintiffs’ originating summons and the defendants’ preliminary objection would be heard together when the defendants file their responses.
Justice Idris noted that the suit was urging him to interpret the decision of his brother judge, Justice Ibrahim Buba.
He adjourned until January 16 for hearing.