By Dirisu Yakubu
ABUJA-A Federal High Court, sitting in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State Capital, has restrained the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from preventing the Chief Makanjola Ogundipe-led South-West Zonal Executive Committee and other delegates from the zone from attending the December 9 elective national convention of the party.
The court also restrained the party, its officers and organs from allowing the Eddy Olafeso-led executive committee from participating in the convention or submitting any list as South-West delegates to the December gathering.
Olafeso, the South-West zonal chairman of the party has the backing of the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee (NCC) and all organs of the party.
In a chat with newsmen in Abuja yesterday, Ogundipe warned against the non-compliance of the court order, saying it’s capable of robbing the convention of its desired outcome. He enjoined the leadership of the party to “uphold the rule of law because he (Makarfi) is also a product of the law.”
It will be recalled that the court had on Wednesday, restrained the PDP, the Chairman and Secretary of the National Caretaker Committee from preventing Makanjuola and other leaders of the party from the South-West zone from attending/participating in the convention; an order Makanjuola brought to Wadata Plaza, the national secretariat of the party on Friday (yesterday).
Named as plaintiffs in the suit with number FHC/AD/CS/18/2017 are Chief Makanjola Ogundipe, Chief Adepegba Otemolu, Lanre Orimoloye, Supo Ijabadeniyi and Femi Carena while the defendants are the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), PDP, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, Senator Ben Obi, Wunmi Jenyo, Adeola Ogunrinde, Femi Adetola and Eddy Olafeso
Others are Fasiu Bakenne, Philip Aivohji, Ojo Williams Mrs. Oluwawumi Oshinroluke, Biliaminu Ogundele, Femi, Makinde, the Inspector General of Police and Assistant Inspector General of Police, Zone 2, Osogbo, Commissioner of Police, Ondo State Command, Department of State Services and State Security Service, Ondo State.
Specifically, the court, which was presided over by Justice Taiwo O. Taiwo, restrained the Makarfi-led committee or their agents from “preventing the plaintiffs and other South-West delegates to the PDP national convention listed in the schedule attached to this originating summons.”
The court listed the beneficiaries of the order to include Alhaji Adewole Adeyanju and Senator Buruji Kashamu, stressing that they should not be barred from attending the national convection.
Justice Taiwo also ruled that no disciplinary action should be taken against the plaintiffs “and other delegates of the party from the South-West Zone in order to prevent them from participating in the party’s national convention pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.”
“An order of interim injunction is hereby granted restraining the 5th to 15th defendants by themselves, their servants, agents and or privies from participating in the PDP national convention scheduled to hold on the 9th of December 2017 or any other date during the subsistence of tenure of office of the South West Zonal Executive Committee led by the 1st Plaintiff as members of the South West delegates of the party pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.”
Ogundipe said it behove on Senator Makarfi-led NCC to demonstrate its belief and respect for the rule of law, saying the contrary would be nothing short of lawlessness and impunity; two vices he argued will hamper the building of a new party to oust the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government in 2019.
“I say this because Eddy Olafeso and his group never emerged from a valid South West Zonal congress. The Federal High Court, Lagos, in a ruling delivered in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/605/2016 on the 17th of May, 2016 expressly nullified the sham congress. Till date, the order has neither been set aside nor upturned on appeal.
“It should be further noted that in a final judgment delivered on the 24th of June, 2016, the court categorically stated that our tenure ends in October, 2018, having been elected at a special zonal congress held on the 11th of October, 2014 in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital. The implication of this is that my exco remains the only validly-elected and judicially-sanctioned leadership of the party in the South West,” he said.
The South-West zonal chair however warned that failure to obey the court order would not augur well for the party even as he tasked the party leaders to “Do justice and avoid anything that can jeopardize our party’s chances in the march towards 2019.”