The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, governors were, Monday, grappling with the most challenging threat to their control of the national executive of the party as the contest to emerge national chairman in tomorrow’s national convention is being projected to go down to the wire.
The threats against the governors’ grip on the party came as
Justice Victor Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday ordered the suspension of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, national convention scheduled for Port Harcourt on August 17, 2016.
His judgment came hours late after another Federal High Court sitting in Port-Harcourt gave an order compelling the police and the Department of State Services, DSS, to enforce security at the convention ground.
The Federal High Court in Port Harcourt also issued an order compelling the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to monitor the convention which it said should go ahead.
Justice Abang, sitting in Abuja, gave an order that the convention should not go ahead.
The contest for the positions was also last night redefined by the flux in the zoning configuration as a number of aspirants for national office have defied the party’s decision on the zoning of offices to states.
The judgment by the Port-Harcourt court came first, paving way for the screening of the 90 candidates for the various positions which commenced yesterday.
Vanguard learned that there are five candidates for the positions of national chairman and national secretary and six contestants for the post of National Publicity Secretary.
The screening of the candidates was ongoing at press time at the party secretariat, Aba Road, Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The appeal panel which will sit on the decision of the screening panel, is expected to meet today.
The offices of national chairman, deputy national chairmen, North and South; national secretary and publicity secretary are standing out to be the most contended positions.
The Port Harcourt judgment
The go-ahead for the convention was given by Justice Ibrahim Watila in Port-Harcourt.
Delivering a ruling on a motion on notice filed by Secretary of the PDP National Convention Planning Committee, Senator Ben Obi for himself and other members of the National Convention Planning Committee against the Inspector-General of Police; Commissioner of Police, Rivers State, the Department of State Services and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in suit number FHC/ PH/CS/585/2016, Justice Watila ordered INEC to ensure that it monitors the national convention.
Justice Watila declared that the July 4, 2016 judgment of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt affirmed that the May 21, 2016 National Convention which produced the National Caretaker Committee has not been appealed against or set aside, hence it behoves the court to protect that judgment.
The court added that there is no injunction against the holding of the August 17, 2016, National Convention in Port Harcourt brought to the attention of the court during the hearing of the application by Senator Ben Obi.
Justice Watila thus ruled that the police and the DSS should provide security for the convention while INEC was compelled to monitor the proceedings.
The court declared that it found the affidavit tendered by the plaintiff/applicant to be true, pointing out that it was at no point contested by the defendants , even though they were duly served.
Justice Watila adjourned the suit till August 16, 2016, for the hearing of the originating summons filed by Senator Ben Obi.
In an interview after the ruling, counsel to Senator Ben Obi, Mr Wori Nyeche Wori, said with the granting of the interlocutory injunction, the party had the legal backing to carry on with the August 17 PDP National Convention.
Convention to go ahead —Wike
Addressing journalists in Port Harcourt, following the court judgment, Governor Nyesom Wike, who is Chairman of the PDP National Convention Planning Committee, said everything was set for the convention.
He said: “Let me assure you that as the chairman of the National Convention Planning Committee, we are backed by law and the court that the convention will go ahead.
“The court has recognised the May 21 National Convention before now in its July 4, 2016, judgment.”
Meanwhile, though Justice Abang gave the restraining order, he, however, fixed today for hearing on the motion itself, even as he joined Makarfi and six other members of his caretaker committee as parties to the substantive suit.
The Makarfi-led mainstream of the party, according to sources, was last night set to renounce the judgment.
Reviewing the developments, the caretaker committee, yesterday, said it would go ahead with the convention on the claim that the order from Port-Harcourt, which it said came earlier, was interlocutory while Justice Abang’s order was interim.