The PDP lost its bid to set aside an order stopping the convention.
An attempt by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to set aside last Thursday’s order by an Abuja High Court, restraining the ruling party from organizing its special national convention on August 31, suffered a setback on Monday.
The court had stopped the convention following a suit filed by three members of the party, Abba Yale, Yahaya Sule and Bashir Maidugu.
At the resumed hearing of the suit, two counsels, Jubril Okutepa, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, and F.N Nwosu, announced their appearance for the plaintiffs, a development that shocked the judge, Justice Suleman Belgore.
Mr. Nwosu based his claim on a letter said to have been written and signed by the plaintiffs.
Following the confusion, counsel to the PDP, Onyechi Ikpeazu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, made an oral application for the discharge of the July 25 restraining order against the planned convention of the party, but the judge rejected it.
“It will be inequitable to discharge the restraining order, based on numerous applications before this court,” Mr. Belgore said.
However, Mr. Okutepa maintained that he had not been debriefed by the plaintiffs even as Mr. Nwosu stuck to his guns, claiming to have been briefed over the weekend.
Mr. Belgore eventually stood down the matter for 30 minutes to enable the lawyers claiming to be appearing for the plaintiffs, sort themselves out.
Messrs Okutepa and Nwosu who addressed the court, upon resumption said that they were not able to agree on the issue. This forced the court to adjourn for another 30 minutes to enable the judge deliver a ruling on the embarrassing development.
Upon his return, Mr. Belgore expressed “sadness” over the appearance disagreement, adding that “it is certainly a trying moment for the legal profession.”
“This thing that has happened would certainly reverberate outside the walls of the court.”
“I’m very sad at this. The legal profession is at a crossroads and my advice to you is that we should leave politicians to play their politics,” he said.
The judge consequently adjourned the matter to September 23.
Confusion on reconciliation
Earlier, a statement allegedly signed by the three aggrieved members of the PDP was released to journalists with the members stating their intention to withdraw the suit.
Messrs Yale, Sule and Maidugu reportedly signed the statement after meeting with the party’s recently inaugurated committee headed by the Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson.
The statement said, “At the behest of the newly constituted National Reconciliation Committee of our great party, the Peoples Democratic party, we have the pleasure to announce the discontinuance of the law suit we instituted in pursuance of justice, equity and fair play.
“In furtherance of this therefore, we hereby totally submit our grievances to the Committee with a view to amicably addressing them as family members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
“Consequently, we undertake to fully support and cooperate with the National Reconciliation Committee and the National Special Convention Committee and other all agencies of the PDP towards the organisation of a successful convention of the party.”
The statement also advised all aggrieved members of the party as well as those that had left it due to disagreements to utilize the opportunity presented by the Committee to address their grievances.
“We also advise all aggrieved party members and those that left the party as a result of certain disagreements to utilize the opportunity presented by the National Reconciliation Committee of the party so that their grievances could be addressed. We thank all those that made this impending peace a possibility,” it states.
PREMIUM TIMES could not reach any of the three plaintiffs to confirm the authenticity of the statement which was given to journalists at the PDP national secretariat in Abuja on Monday evening.
However, Francis Agbo, the media aide to Mr. Dickson confirmed that the reconciliation committee met with the plaintiffs last weekend.
It is not clear if the plaintiffs hired a new lawyer, Mr. Nwosu, to replace Mr. Okutepa after the peace meeting; or whether they truly intend to withdraw the suit.
The adjournment by the judge, however, means the ruling party cannot hold and indeed fix a new date for its planned convention to elect new members of the National Working Committee earlier than September 23.
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