Planned Suspension: Court adjourns Rivers Gov-elect’s suit against PDP for judgment
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Friday, adjourned for judgment a suit filed by the Rivers State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governor-elect, Siminlalayi Fubara, and his deputy, Dr. Ngozi Odu, over alleged plan by the party to suspend them.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a short ruling, fixed April 20 for judgment after Fubara’s counsel, Dr. Joshua Musa and Mr. Johnson Usman, who represented the PDP and its executives, adopted their processes and presented their arguments for and against the suit.
The judge also fixed April 20 for judgment in a suit filed by the Cross Rivers State PDP governorship candidate, Sen. Sandy Onor, and his running mate, Ambrose Emana, against the party and its executives over allegations bordering on planned suspension.
In a related development, the judge fixed the same date for a ruling on a motion moved by Musa, seeking an order to amend their originating summons in another suit filed by the Rivers PDP Chairman, Amb. Desmond Akawo against the party, which was opposed to by Usman.
Akawo had sued the PDP, its National Chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Upon resumed hearing on Friday, Usman informed the court that the PDP wrote a letter to the Chief Judge (CJ) of FHC, Justice John Tsoho, asking that the case be reassigned to another judge.
The senior lawyer said Justice Ekwo was copied in the letter. He said the letter, dated March 14, was received by the CJ on March 15.
The PDP letter prayed Justice Tsoho for the transfer of all the three cases currently before Justice Ekwo and its other cases to other judges. The party cited loss of confidence and bias as grounds for the application. But Musa opposed the application, saying he was unaware of such letter.
He argued that such administrative letter couldn’t serve as a stay of proceeding since no response had been received from the CJ regarding the letter. The judge, who said he had not seen the letter, said he got to know about the development through social media.
Ekwo, however, directed the parties to proceed in the matter having not received any communication in that regard. And after the counsel adopted their processes, the judge adjourned the first two cases for judgment and fixed Akawo’s suit for ruling. Fubara, Onor, Akawo and others had filed three separate suits against the PDP and others.
In a suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/123/2023, which was filed by Fubara, Odu, and 48 others, the plaintiffs listed PDP, its National Working Committee (NWC) and National Executive Committee (NEC) as 1st to 3rd respondents respectively.
Also, joined in the suit are the PDP National Chairman, Ayu; National Secretary, Sen. Samuel Anyanwu and the INEC as 4th to 6th respondents respectively.
The 50 plaintiffs sought an order of injunction restraining the 1st to 5th defendants from suspending, expelling or in any manner do any act that would tamper with their fundamental rights.
They said these rights were guaranteed under Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Articles 10 and 13 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Right (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, CAP. AQ, Laws of the Federation, 2004.
They also sought an order of injunction restraining INEC from according any recognition to any suspension or expulsion or any other act(s) of the 1st to 5th respondents designed to violate their fundamental rights.
They prayed the court to declare that the threat to suspend, expel or tamper with their rights as members of PDP and its candidates at the general elections on account of the disagreement between the party’s national executives and Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers where they hail from amounted to a denial of their rights.