By IKECHUKWU NNOCHIRI
The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, yesterday, fixed Monday to commence hearing on a suit seeking to nullify the special convention that was held by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Abuja on August 31.
In a hearing notice he issued yesterday, Justice Adamu Bello, ordered all the respondents to appear in court on that date to enter their defence to the suit which was filed by a company, Bedding Holdings Limited, BHL.
The company is accusing the party of making illegal use of its patented ballot boxes for the election that brought the Alhaji Bamangar Tukur led national executives of the PDP into office.
Aside PDP, others listed as respondents in the suit include President Goodluck Jonathan, Vice President Namadi Sambo, Senate President, David Mark, House of Representatives Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal and Chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees, Anthony Anenih.
Others are the National Chairman of the party, Tukur, Professor Jerry Gana (who acted as the Chairman, PDP special convention committee), and Senator Ken Nnamani (who was the Chairman, PDP’s electoral committee).
Equally named as respondents in the suit were Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State (who acted as Chairman, PDP Essential Electoral Materials Committee), Chairman Police Service Commission, Mr Mike Okiro (who served as Chairman, PDP Special National Convention Sub-Committee on Security), the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and its Chairman, Prof Attahiru Jega.
It is the contention of the company that by virtue of a subsisting judgment of the court which had declared it as the sole patentee of transparent and collapsible ballot boxes in Nigeria, the use of such boxes by the party without its consent, rendered the purpose for which the boxes were used null and void.
The high court had in the said judgement which was delivered on June 5, 2012, in a suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/82/2011 between BHL, Registrar of Patents, Federal Ministry of Commerce and Industry and six others, ordered that, “Any action or actions whatsoever and howsoever taken or purported to have been taken by the defendants relating to the said products without the prior and express license, consent, authority and/or approval of the plaintiff is unconstitutional, illegal, unlawful and is therefore null and void.”
The court had equally restrained the Registrar of Patents and its agents from registering or issuing the plaintiff’s valid and subsisting patent over the ballot boxes to any person or organistion, except with the consent of BHL.
Consequently, the plaintiff, in the instant suit, told the court that INEC which it said was a party in the suit that culminated to the judgment, despite being aware of the court’s orders, deployed the same ballot boxes for use at the PDP convention without its consent, thus acting in defiance to a valid court order.
The plaintiff is therefore urging the court to determine whether, “by the combined construction and interpretation reliefs six and seven of the valid and subsisting judgment of June 5, 2012”, the respondents could use its patented ballot boxes or its imitation for the PDP special congress without its consent as well as to determine whether, if it answers the above question in the negative, the elections conducted in the congress are unconstitutional, unlawful and stand null and void, in view of the fact that the respondents allegedly used its patented ballot boxes fraudulently without first seeking and obtaining its consent as required by the judgment?
Besides, the plaintiff, wants the court to declare that the respondents ought not to have used its ballot boxes for the PDP congress without its consent.
It is equally seeking a declaration that the elections conducted during the congress are unconstitutional, unlawful, fraudulent and stand null and void in view of the fact that its patented ballot boxes were allegedly used fraudulently for the elections, without its prior consent and in violation of the subsisting judgment.
More so, it is praying the court for an order, nullifying the elections conducted during the special national convention of the PDP held on August 13, 2013 “for being unconstitutional, unlawful, null and void,” on the ground that the elections were allegedly replete with fraud and illegality because the respondents allegedly used its patented ballot boxes for the elections without its consent, as required in law and in violation of the existing judgment.