February 14, 2023

PDP Crisis: Court extends order stopping Wike’s suspension



By Ikechukwu Nnochiri, ABUJA

The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Tuesday, extended the interim order it made on February 2, which restrained the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its leadership from taking steps to either suspend or expel the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, from the party.

At the resumed proceedings in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/139/2023, which Wike brought before the court, Justice John Omotosho ordered all parties to maintain the status quo, pending the hearing and determination of the matter.

Cited as respondents in the suit are the PDP; the National Working Committee, NWC, of the party; the National Executive Council, NEC; its Chairman, Iyiocha Ayu; the National Secretary, Samuel Anyanwu; and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

Wike had through his lawyer, Mr Joshua Musa, SAN, informed the court that the 1st to 5th respondents served him with a counter-affidavit they filed in opposition to the suit.

He, therefore, applied for a short adjournment to enable him to file his response to the respondents.

The governor’s request was not opposed by counsel to the 1st to 5th respondents, Mr Jonathan Usman, SAN, and that of INEC, M. A. Bawa.

Consequently, Justice Omotosho adjourned the case, even as he directed the maintenance of the status quo by all the parties.

Specifically, the respondents, in the counter affidavit, challenged the jurisdiction of the court to entertain Wike’s suit.

Aside from querying the powers of the court to meddle in the domestic affair of a political party, the respondents argued that the governor failed to disclose any reasonable cause of action.

They described the suit as premature, insisting that the plaintiff failed to establish how his right was threatened.

The respondents urged the court to dismiss the suit.

However, INEC is yet to file any process in respect of the case.

Wike had in an ex-parte motion he filed before the court, complained of threat by the leadership of the PDP to either suspend or expel him.

He prayed the court to, among other things, issue an order mandating the respondents to maintain the status quo and stay all “actions in this matter relating to the threat to suspend or expel the applicant by the 1st to 5th respondents pending the hearing and determination of the originating motion.”

Wike equally sought leave for a substituted serve of the court papers on the respondents, except INEC, through the national secretariat of the PDP.

While granting the reliefs, Justice Omotosho, held: “An order is hereby made that all parties in this suit shall maintain peace and shall not take any action or step or act that may make the outcome of the motion on notice dated and filed on 2nd February 2023 nugatory and worthless.

“Any act or step or action made so as ta make the outcome of the motion on notice dated and filed 2nd February 2023 nugatory shall be a nullity.

“Leave is hereby granted to the applicant to serve the originating motion, motion on notice and all other processes of this court in this suit on the 1st to 5th respondents by substituted means to wit, by pasting all the processes of court on PDP National Secretariat, Wadata Plaza, Wuse Zone 5, Federal Capital Territory, Abuja”.

The court further ordered the service of hearing notice on all the respondents.