Group Asks FHC’s Chief Judge to Consolidate PDP Suits

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By Tobi Soniyi in Abuja

Society for Global Justice and Equity Promotion has appealed to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, to consolidate all the cases filed by warring factions of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The group in a statement issued in Abuja at the weekend and signed by the National Coordinator, Elder Oluwole Adegboyega, said allowing one judge to hear all the  cases would save the judiciary from a situation where two contradictory orders on the same issues will emanate from the courts.

While making reference to the two contradictory rulings by a Federal High Court in Lagos and another one in Port Harcourt on  the lingering crisis in the PDP, Adegboyega said consolidating the suits would prevent the litigants from presenting conflicting facts that might lead the courts into issuing contradictory decisions.

He commended recent efforts by the leadership of the judiciary, especially the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, to sanitise the judiciary and said that politicians should not be allowed to use the courts to resolve issues that they could simply settle among themselves.

He pointed out that non lawyers who did not understand the ways and manner the judiciary works are already casting aspersions on the courts because of the contradictory decisions.

According to him, by assigning the cases to one judge through consolidation, His Lordship would have prevented the possibility of politicians misleading the court because all issues would be put in perspective before the trial judge.

He said: “We note with great concern the two conflicting orders emanating from two federal high courts on similar issues and hold the view that such a development does not augur well for our judiciary.

“To save the judiciary from further embarrassment, we hereby appeal to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court to order immediate consolidation of the cases in Lagos and Port Harcourt and assign to a judge to determine the issues therein.

“Let us make it clear here. We are not blaming any of the judges. They have only acted on the facts presented before them. Nevertheless, a situation where two conflicting orders on similar issues will emanate from the Federal High Court, which in law is only one court, does not help the image of the judiciary.

“Such a situation undermines the effort of His Lordship, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court to strengthen the court.”

Last week a Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State granted an interim injunction restraining Ali Modu Sheriff from parading himself as the national chairman of the PDP.

The court also barred Adewale Oladipo from parading himself as the national secretary of the party.

The court restrained INEC from according or continuing to accord any recognition to Messrs. Sheriff and Oladipo or any or all members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party removed from office at the party’s national convention in Port Harcourt, as officers or organs of the PDP pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.

The court mandated INEC to recognise the Makarfi committee in all matters pertaining the conduct of primary elections for political offices and the submission of the PDP List of candidates for any elections to be conducted by INEC pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.

The court also granted a restraining order on all members of the party’s NWC from receiving nominations or submitting names to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as officers or candidates of the PDP in whatever capacity pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice brought by the party.

On the same day, the Lagos Division of the court reinstated Sheriff, and removed Ahmed Makarfi, who was appointed as chairman of the party’s caretaker committee.

Justice Ibrahim Buba sitting in Lagos nullified the national caretaker committee constituted by the party in Port Harcourt

In his ruling, Justice Buba said the committee was constituted in violation of an order he had made on May 12, when he barred the PDP from holding elections into offices of the national chairman, national secretary, and national auditor pending the determination of a suit before him.

The judge had also restrained the INEC from monitoring any election conducted by the party.

Justice Buba said: “No court can make an order in vain.

“The decisions of the Federal High Court, a High Court and of all other courts established by this Constitution shall be enforced in any part of the federation by all authorities and persons, and by other courts of law with subordinate jurisdiction to that of the Federal High Court, a High Court and those other courts, respectively.

“Therefore, the Inspector-General of Police is directed to enforce the orders of this court until the order is set aside or all the applications before the court are disposed of.

Because of the nature of this matter being political, time is hereby abridged for the hearing of all applications.”

The PDP had held a national convention last weekend where the party appointed Ahmed Makarfi, a former governor of Kaduna State, as acting national chairman, while Ben Obi, a former senator, was appointed acting‎ national secretary.