Suit To Nullify Election To PDP NEC Stalled

BAMANGE TUKUR

Hearing in a suit seeking to sack the Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Dr. Sam Sam Jaja and 17 other members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC), could not go on Monday, as an application for substitution forced the court to adjourn.

Some members of the party had approached the court for an order nullifying the election of Jaja and 17 others.

Apart from Jaja, the 17 NWC members dragged to court are: Bala Bawa Ka’oje (National Treasurer), Solomon Onwe (Deputy National Secretary), Umar Tsauri (Deputy National Auditor),Olisa Metuh (National Publicity Secretary), Bode Mustapha

Others are: Dr. (Mrs.) Kema Chikwe ( Women Leader),Victor Kwon (National Legal Adviser),and Anunakar Mustapha (National Organising Secretary).

The plaintiffs’ in their suit argued that the affected NWC members, did not emerge in accordance with the constitution and guidelines of the PDP.

They also hinged their argument on the strength of a report said to have emanated from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) wherein, the electoral body was said to have picked holes in the March, 2012, National Convention of the party, which produced the defendants.

However, the matter, which was slated for hearing of pending applications (preliminary objections and counter-affidavits in reply to originating summons), could proceed, owing to an application for substitution brought by the party’s National Auditor, Mr. Fatai Adeyanju.

Counsel to the applicant, Oluyede Ajibola, had moved the application praying the court to substitute the name of the 3rd defendant and former Auditor, Hon. Bode Akin Mustapha, with his.

Oluyede argued that, since he is now the national auditor, it was only proper for him to have been listed as a co-defendant, rather than Mustapha, whom he said was removed from the office, consequent upon an order by a federal high court sitting in Lagos.

Placing reliance on Order 10 Rule 35 of the high court rules, counsel sought a stay of proceedings in the matter.

He exhibited a certified true copy of the enrolled order of the Lagos court, where the presiding judge was said to have directed the PDP to replace Mustapha, “since he was not an accountant”, as contemplated by the party’s constitution.

Again, applicant counsel drew the court’s attention to a pending suit before Justice Adamu Bello of the Abuja Federal high court, wherein the judge had asked parties to stay action on “the so-called INEC report”.

In his thinking, the subject matter of the suit before Bello is the same with what is currently before the court.

But, plaintiffs’ counsel, Mr. Jibrin Okutepa (SAN), disagreed with the application for substitution saying, “an application for stay of proceedings can only be predicated on a pending appeal.

Plaintiffs’ counsel posited that since the applicant, Adeyanju, was not a party in the suit, “the court cannot stay proceedings in the matter; where an applicant is neither before this court nor before Adamu Bello’s court”.

Okutepa further contended that “the affidavit evidence (before the court) has not shown any occurrence of change, as envisaged by order 10, rule 35, pointing out that even “the existence of the said judgment has not been proved”.

To that extent, therefore, he urged the court to dismiss the motion.

While counsel to 1st defendant, Chief Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN) and 2nd – 3rd defendants acknowledged the fact that the court was bound by the said order referred to by the applicant, moreso that same had not been set aside.

Other defendants argued that the applicant could only come by way of an application for joinder.

However, the 15th defendant said by the express provision of order 10 of the court, “a formal application is not needed for the proper party to be joined; only the discretion of the court is.”

Having listened to all the arguments trial judge, Justice Suleiman Belgore, adjourned the matter till July 4, “for ruling, taking of all the preliminary objections and hearing of the originating summons.”