Rules on preliminary objections for July 4.
An Abuja High Court hearing the suit on the election of 18 members of the National Working Committee, NWC, at the March, 2012 National Convention of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, was on Monday forced to adjourn following an application for substitution brought by one of the defendants, Fatai Adeyanju, in the suit.
Mr. Adeyanju is the National Auditor of the ruling party.
Three members of the PDP, Abba Yale and Bashir Maidugu, both indigenes of Borno State and Yahaya Sule, who is from Taraba State, had asked the court to enforce the report of the Independent National Election Commission, INEC, which invalidated the election of the NWC members during the convention.
Some of the NWC members are the Deputy National Chairman, Sam Sam Jaja; National Publicity Secretary, Olisah Metuh; National Organising Secretary Abubakar Mustapha; Deputy National Organising Secretary, Okechukwu Nnadozie; Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Binta Goje; National Youth Leader, Garba Chiza; Deputy Youth Leader, Dennis Alonge Niyi; Deputy National Auditor, Umar Ibrahim; National Women Leader, Kema Chikwe; Deputy National Women Leader, Hannatu Ulam; Deputy National Treasurer, Claudus Inengas; and National Legal Adviser, Victor Kwom.
Oluyede Ajibola, counsel to Mr. Adeyanju had prayed the court presided over by Suliman Belgore to substitute the name of the third defendant and former National Auditor, Bode Mustapha, with that of his client thus aborting the hearing of pending applications (preliminary objections and counter-affidavit in reply to originating summons).
Mr. Ajibola argued that since his client is now the national auditor, it is only proper for him to be listed as a co-defendant, instead of Mr. Mustapha, whom he said was removed from the office, consequent upon an order of a Federal High Court in Lagos.
The counsel sought a stay of proceedings in the matter while relying on Order 10 Rule 35 of the High Court Rules.
Mr. Ajibola also exhibited a certified true copy of the enrolled order of the Lagos court, in which the presiding judge was said to have directed the party to replace Mr. Mustapha, “since he was not an accountant”, as contemplated by the party’s constitution.
He drew the attention of the court to another suit which is pending before a Federal High Court in Abuja wherein the judge asked the parties to the suit to stay action on the INEC report.
He said the report is the issue in contention in the High Court presided over by Adamu Bello.
However, counsel to the plaintiffs’, Jibrin Okutepa, disagreed with the application for substitution saying, “an application for stay of proceedings can only be predicated on a pending appeal.”
Mr. Okutepa said that since Mr. Adeyanju was not a party in the suit, “the court cannot stay proceedings in the matter; where an applicant is neither before this court nor before Adamu Bello’s court”.
He also argued that the affidavit evidence does not show any occurrence of change, as envisaged by order 10, rule 35, pointing out that even the existence of the said judgement had not been proved and therefore asked the court to dismiss the motion.
Onyechi Ikpeazu, counsel to first, second and third defendants acknowledged the fact that the court was bound by the said order referred to by Mr. Adeyanju.
After listening to all the arguments, Mr. Belgore adjourned the case to July 4 for ruling on all preliminary objections and hearing.