A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has declined to entertain a suit filed by a faction of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) seeking to restrain the party and any of its members from calling, summoning, or presiding over any meeting, except it is called by embattled National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus.
In a ruling on Thursday, Justice Tijjani Ringim declined to entertain the suit on the grounds that it was not ripe for hearing since the defendants listed therein were yet to respond to it.
Listed as plaintiffs in the suit were Mr Eddy Olafeso, Mr Rashidi Sunmonu, Mr Daisi Akintan, Mr Bunmi Jenyo, and Mr Wahab Owokoniran.
They are seeking among other reliefs, “An interlocutory order of injunction restraining the first, third, fourth, and fifth defendants by themselves, their servants, agents, privies or any member of the defendant whatsoever, other than the second defendant, from calling, summoning or presiding over any meeting of the party whatsoever, including the meeting of any committee of the party, any congress of the party, the National Working Committee, the National Executive Committee, the National Convention, and all other organs or bodies of the party pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.”
Those listed as defendants are the PDP, Secondus, Yomi Akinwonmi (PDP Deputy National Chairman, South), Senator Suleiman Nazif (PDP Deputy National Chairman, North), Senator Ibrahim Tsauri (National Secretary, PDP), Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF).
At the resumed hearing of the matter on Thursday, counsel to the plaintiffs, Chimezie Ihekweazu (SAN), told the court that his client’s application was ripe for hearing following a ruling delivered by the court on September 1, that all parties in the suit be put on notice while the court fixed September 9 for hearing of the suit.
But a lawyer, Mr Chuks Ugo, announced his appearance for the PDP and Senator Tsauri – the first and fifth respondents – while another lawyer, Mr Oladayo Ilori, held the brief of Mr Olatunbosun Osifowora who also claimed to be representing all the defendants in the suit except the party’s embattled national chairman, Secondus (the second defendant).
Mr Ugo and Mr Ilori both informed the court that they have the mandate of the defendants to represent them in the suit.
After listening to both lawyers, Justice Ringim held that the two counsels were in disharmony and cannot represent the same client.
He asked the parties to resolve the issue of legal representation.
The judge also held that since the plaintiff’s processes were served on the defendants on September 2, the defendants were still within time to file their responses.
He declared that the motion was not ripe for hearing.
While citing the recent comments of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) on conflicting court orders, Justice Ringim sought to know if the present suit was not before another court and did not constitute an abuse of the court process.
He also said the suit would be returned to the Chief Judge of the court for reassignment, as there was no urgency in the affidavits filed by the applicants to entertain it during the court’s vacation.