Monday, August 15, 2016

Court Blocks PDP From Holding National Convention In Port Harcourt

A Federal High Court in Abuja has suspended the scheduled national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, earlier slated for August 17.

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

Mr. 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.

“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.