The court agreed with lawyers to the governors that they have not been served with court papers.
A Federal High Court in Abuja has temporarily dented the hope of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to have the five governors who defected from the party last October to the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, removed from office.
Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court, Abuja, Tuesday, ruled that the PDP failed to properly serve the originating summons and other court processes on the defendants.
The decampee governors are AbdulFatah Ahmed, Kwara; Rotimi Amaechi Rivers; Murtala Nyako Adamawa; Aliyu Wamako, Sokoto; and Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano.
In his ruling on the disputed mode of service of the court summons on the governors, Mr. Kolawole held that the PDP failed to follow the procedures allowed by law in reaching the defendants since December 10 when the court action was instituted.
The court agreed with lawyers to the governors that they have not been served with court papers and as such the court cannot assume jurisdiction until the plaintiff –PDP- has done the needful on the effective service of the court summon.
The service of court process allegedly executed at No. 40, Blantyre Street, being the new office of the APC, was declared illegal, invalid, and defective; and was dismissed by the court for not having its endorsement.
Justice Kolawole held that the service of originating summons by the plaintiff on the defendant was fundamental before any court can take further action against any defendant. He added that in the instant case, the service done by PDP was not in conformity with the procedure of the court.
The judge adjourned the case sine-die –indefinitely- pending the time the plaintiff will comply with the law in the service of the originating summons on the five governors.
Mr. Kolawole asked PDP to formally write the court and attach the evidence of proper service of court processes on the defendants before any action could be taken against the governors.
The PDP had claimed that in line with the courts’ order obtained on December 13, 2013, the originating summons was taken to No. 6 Bissau Street, Wuse Zone 6; before the ruling party discovered that the APC had vacated the office and relocated to No. 40, Blantyre Street, Abuja as the new office.
PDP claimed that the originating summons and other court papers were subsequently delivered to the new office for onward delivery by the APC to the governors.
But Justice Kolawole agreed with the governors that the service at 40 Blantyre Street was invalid, ineffective, and faulty because the order of the court for service did not embody the address.
The judge said what the plaintiff –PDP- ought to have done was to come back to the court to legally vary the order of service before it can be effective on 40, Blantyre Street, being the new APC National Secretariat.
After PDP’s service at the new APC secretariat and its subsequent media coverage, counsel to the governors stormed the court to challenge the service.
They claimed in their different reactions that the appropriate places to serve them with court summons are their offices in their respective state capitals.
The governors insisted that no legal action has been instituted against them until they have been properly served with court summons and other processes.
But the PDP maintained that the governors were evading service of the court processes that were delivered at the APC national secretariat, being their new political party.
Justice Kolawole said that PDP would have done well if the service of the originating summons had been effected on the Attorney General of the affected states since such service can hardly be faulted in law.
He, therefore, ordered PDP, represented by Alex Iziyon, to do the needful before the case can be resuscitated by the court for adjudication.