By Ikechukwu Nnochiri, Abuja
The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, Friday, nullified the suspension of the Chairman, Senate Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Senator Andy Uba, from the People’s Democratic Party, PDP.
The court which was presided over by Justice Ahmed R. Mohammed, maintained that the National Working Committee, NWC, of the PDP, attempted to overreach the powers of the court when it wielded the big stick against Andy, his younger brother, Chief Chris Uba and three others, despite being aware of the pendency of a suit that was entered against the party by the plaintiffs.
Others whose suspension was lifted by the court yesterday were the factional Chairman of the party in Anambra state, Chief Ejike Oguebego, Benjamin Udeozor and Mrs Anthonia Nwankwu.
They were ab-initio axed from the party for allegedly conducting a parallel state congress last Saturday where Andy Uba was nominated as the PDP flag-bearer for the impending gubernatorial election in Anambra State.
Meantime, following refusal of the plaintiffs to appear before the NWC of the party to explain the alleged divisive roles they played, which culminated in the nomination of two flag-bearers for the party in Anambra state, PDP, via a letter signed by its Acting National Secretary, Dr Charles Aderemi Akitoye, announced their suspension.
The letter which was addressed to them individually, read: “The National Working Committee, NWC at its 353rd meeting held on Wednesday, 28th August, 2013 reviewed the happenings in Anambra PDP regarding the Anambra Primary Election.
“It was noted that you organized a parallel state congress which was unauthorised by the party contrary to section 58 (1) a, b, c, f, h and j of the PDP constitution (2012 as amended).
“As a result of this, you were invited to meet with the NWC on Wednesday 28, August, 2013 for fair hearing, but you did not appear.
“In view of the seriousness of the issues involved, you are hereby suspended from the party and the case referred to the appropriate Disciplinary Committee for further necessary action”.
However, in his ruling yesterday, Justice Mohammed, noting that PDP was duly served with a copy of an order he made on Thursday, directing it to appear before him and show cause why the court should not abort any move to suspend the plaintiffs from the party, declared the action of the party against Andy Uba and the others a nullity,
“ For all intent and purpose, the 1st defendant was duly aware of the order to appear today to show cause. Does the fact that a defendant is within time to respond to a court summon give it the right to do the same act for which the court asked it to appear before it to give explanation?
“Can a party proceed to render an action before the court a mere academic exercise? Should the court watch helplessly while its authority is desecrated? My answer is No.
“ Court has a duty to safeguard its integrity at all times. The action of the 1st defendant in suspending the plaintiffs despite being aware of the pendency of this suit is a deliberate attempt to overreach this court.
“Any action which has the colouration of sanction against the plaintiffs is interference on the powers of this court.
“In line with the powers imbued on the court by section 6(6) of the 1999 constitution and Order 56 of the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rule, an interim order is hereby made suspending the suspension of the plaintiffs pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice before the court.
“ I further order that the motion ex-parte be served on the 1st defendant. This case is hereby adjourned till September 5 for the 1st defendant to appear before this court to show cause and for hearing of the plaintiffs’ motion ex-parte,” the court ruled.
Counsel to the PDP, Chief Clems Ezika, earlier told the court that the party was served with a copy of the plaintiffs’ suit yesterday morning, an allegation that was immediately refuted by counsel to the plaintiifs, Mr Abe Taiwo.
Nevertheless, upon careful examination of its record, the court, said it was satisfied that the party was duly served on Thursday, noting that it was one Innocent E. that signed the documents on behalf of the party at its headquarters at the Wadata House at Wuse Zone 6, Abuja.