Party officials desert offices before court’s ruling.
Respite came the way of 17 members of the National Working Committee, NWC, of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as an Abuja High Court, on Monday, adjourned a suit seeking to nullify their election into the committee, last year.
The judge handling the case, Suliman Belgore, fixed June 10 for definite hearing on the suit filed by three members of the party challenging the elections of the party chiefs.
The plaintiffs are Abba Yale and Bashir Maidugu, both of who are from Borno State, and Yahaya Sule, an indigene of Taraba State. They are all members of PDP.
They had prayed the court to enforce the report of the Independent National Election Commission, INEC, which invalidated the election of the March 2012 National Convention of the ruling party.
Some of the affected PDP officials 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.
The INEC report, however, cleared four members of the NWC as duly elected. They are the National Chairman, Bamanga Tukur; suspended National Secretary, Olagunsoye Oyinlola; sacked National Auditor, Bode Mustapha; and National Financial Secretary, Bolaji Anani.
Most of the officials affected by the report had deserted their offices at the national secretariat of the party at Wadata House in Wuse Zone 5, Abuja, in anticipation that the case might not be favourable to them. They only started coming at about noon when they heard that a new date had been fixed for the case.
Before fixing the new date for hearing, Mr. Belgore ordered the parties to file all their papers, warning that he would not entertain any distraction.
The plaintiffs had based their suit on the grounds that the election of the officials, who are the defendants, was a nullity because some provisions of the ruling party’s constitution were violated.
In the 27-page affidavit sworn to, they said that if the officials continue to occupy their positions, it will jeopardize the workings and or activities of the 1st defendants (PDP), including the conduct of future nomination or election of candidates into public offices.
They also claimed that INEC which monitored the convention “observed and reported that the mode of election adopted for single candidates was not in accordance with the mode of election stipulated in paragraph 6.0 (ii) of page 17 of the Guidelines for the conduct of year 2012 convention and therefore unacceptable to the commission.”
They further stated that the “PDP arbitrarily caused the return of the 2nd, 4th – 6th,8th – 18th Defendants into each of their various National Offices,” stressing that “as a result of the actions of the 1st defendant, the 1st and 2nd plaintiffs were denied the opportunity to elect candidates of their choice.”
The plaintiffs also asked the court to determine whether the purported appointment or selection by affirmation and continuous appointment of the 3rd – 6th,8th – 18th defendants is a nullity by virtue of the provisions of Articles 2 and 85 of the Constitution of the PDP 2009 (as amended).
Other reliefs sought are that there should be an order to nullify the selection, affirmation and or appointments of the 2nd – 18th as national officers of the 1st defendant (PDP) and another order “compelling the 1st defendants to conduct fresh elections into the national offices held by the 2nd – 18th defendants.”
Meanwhile, all the defendants have prayed the court to strike out the suit, arguing that the plaintiffs do not have the locus standi to institute the case and that the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain it. According to the embattled PDP officials, the plaintiffs did not present their membership cards.
Also, the officials, in the preliminary objections, oppose the hearing of the originating summons, insisting that the issues raised for determination are not justiciable.