There was a little bit of intrigues as a Court order to enforce the report of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which held that the March 24, 2012 election that produced some members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Working Committee (NWC) was not properly conducted.
The order was eventually served through substituted service to the affected members, but before then, the affected NWC members were alleged to have been evading service, a situation that made plaintiff/applicants to seek an order of substituted service.
The substituted service was granted by Justice S.B. Belgore of Abuja High Court on May 2, 2013.
The order for substituted service is coming on the heels of an earlier order restraining the INEC report by Justice Adamu Bello of the Federal High Court According to the substituted service order by Justice Belgore, “Leave is granted to the plaintiff/applicant to serve by substituted means of the originating summons, affidavit in support, pre- action counseling and other processes in this suit on the 2nd to the 18th defendants through the office of the 1st defendant’s national chairman at the PDP national secretariat, Wadata Plaza, Wuse Zone 5, Abuja”.
Justice Belgore said that upon hearing the motion on notice dated April 30 2013 and after hearing the affidavit in support of the application sworn to by Jovita Duru and also after hearing J.S. Okutepa (SAN) with Joni Ichika, granted the said substituted service.
The suit was adjourned to May 20 2013. THISDAY gathered that upon the substituted service, the PDP National Legal Adviser, Victor Kwom distributed the court order to the affected members of the PDP NWC. It was after they received the substituted service that they attended the NWC meeting on the next line of action that took place at the Legacy House of PDP.
Already, it was learnt that efforts to get President Goodluck Jonathan was abortive, as a source said that the President said that he would not intervene in a matter already before the court.
Justice Adamu Bello of the Federal High Court had after hearing of a suit seeking, among others, to restrain INEC from recognising or allowing any attempt to remove any member of PDP-NWC on any agenda of any of the national organ of the party, ordered the parties to maintain status quo pending the determination of the suit.
The order is consequent upon a motion by Ajibola Oluyede, seeking an order that the parties in the case maintain status quo concerning issues raised in it pending the hearing and determination of the originating summons filed in the case.
The Judge, while granting the application, noted that ordinarily, parties are bound by the doctrine of ‘lis pendens’ to refrain from tampering with the res (subject of dispute) in a case before a court, but that in Nigeria it is not always the case. He fi xed hearing of the originating summons for May 23.
By the court’s order, the PDP and INEC (being the only parties in the case) are to maintain status quo pending the hearing and determination of the originating summons. PDP fi led the suit against INEC.
The plaintiff is specifically urging the court to determine whether, one year after the party’s last national convention was concluded, anyone could use INEC’s report on the convention, which complained about the procedure for election of some members of the party’s NWC, for any purpose.
PDP urged the court to declare that the procedure of affirmation and voice vote used for unopposed candidates at the national convention was in consonant with Section 223 of the Constitution and in substantial compliance with PDP guidelines for the convention.
It also seeks a declaration that any complaint about the national convention must be made within 48 hours and therefore, can no longer be made a year after the convention was concluded.
The plaintiff also prayed the court for an injunction restraining INEC from recognizing or allowing any attempt to place the impeachment or removal of any member of PDP’s NWC on any agenda of any of the national organ of the party. Oluyede said the order for maintenance of status quo was equally binding on the PDP, its offi cers and organs. He added that the issue of dissolution of the PDP NWC or impeachment of any of its members must now await the court’s decision on the suit.
Three members of the party; Hon. Abba Yale from Borno state, Hon. Yahaya Aruwa Sule from Taraba state and Barrister Bashir Maidugu from Borno state in suit no M/67290/13 in the originating summons by Joni Icheka sought to implementation of the INEC report and sack of the NWC members concerned because they did not have the requisite constitutional requirements to occupy their offices as members of the NWC of the party.