By Tony Edike
ENUGU—THE Federal High Court, Enugu, yesterday restrained the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP from conducting fresh congresses on Saturday to elect new party executives in Enugu State.
In granting the order, the Presiding Judge, Justice Ramat Mohammed, said the injunction subsists, pending the hearing of the motion filed before the court by a faction of the party under Chief Vita Abba, whose State Executive Council was dissolved last week by the National Working Committee , NWC, of the party.
Joined as first and second defendants/respondents in the application brought by Abba are the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC and the National Chairman of PDP, Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo, who ordered the dissolution of the state executive committee of the party through a statement issued by his media aide.
The faction of the party led by one Reuben Ochi, who has a pending motion before the same court, made representation in court to be joined in Abba’s motion.
Ruling on an oral application by the plaintiff to file an ex-parte motion, the presiding judge, Justice Mohammed, said there is was compelling need to make an order to preserve the status quo until the substantive motion before the court was heard.
Counsel to INEC, Wilfred Nwabude, and Nwodo’s lead counsel, Mike Ajogwu, SAN, had opposed the application made by the plaintiff (Abba) through his lead counsel, Justina Offiah, SAN.
But Justice Mohammed explained that having earlier declined to grant an earlier ex-parte motion from the plaintiff last Monday because he wanted the defendants to be put on notice, it would be improper to grant same yesterday (Thursday).
He, however, said if fresh congresses were allowed on Saturday (tomorrow), there would be nothing for the court to determine at the hearing of the substantive motion, adding that the court could not fold its arm and allow the congresses to hold.
Mohammed said: “They came on Monday with an ex-parte motion but I declined to grant it, not that I don’t know how to grant one, but it must however be justified by this court. I insisted that the defendants must be in court. Having refused to grant the ex-parte motion on Monday, October 30, it will be most improper to grant this one, even though there are reliefs seeking to stop any congress.
“If fresh congress is conducted on Saturday, the court cannot abridge time now to hear the motion on notice and by the time the matter comes up again, we must be faced with a fait accompli as there would be nothing before the court to determine.”