Court Revalidates PDP National Convention, Orders INEC, DSS, Police Participation


· Judge decries attempt to arrest his judgment

Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt

The Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has declared that the National Caretaker Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is the executive authority in all matters concerning the party and that the August 17 national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) scheduled for Port Harcourt was in line with the July 4 judgment of the court, which validated the May 21, 2016 National Convention of the party.

The court also ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to monitor the convention while the Inspector General of Police, the Director General of the Department of State Security (DSS), the Rivers State Commissioner of Police and the Rivers State Director of the DSS provide security at the convention.

The decisions of the court were contained in its judgment in suit no: FHC/PH/CS/585/2016 between Senator Ben Obi (plaintiff) on behalf of the National Convention Planning Committee of the PDP, and the Inspector General of Police, State Commissioner of Police, the DSS, the state director of the DSS and INEC (as defendants).

The Presiding Judge, Justice Ibrahim Watila, noted that the July 4 judgment of the court had not been upturned by any appellate court and so was valid and subsisting.

A mild drama however played out in court as the judge was about to deliver his judgment.

A lawyer, who gave his name as T. A. Damiari, rose to get the attention of the court that he represented a party seeking to be joined in the suit.

But the judge said he had not seen any process to that effect and would go on to deliver the judgment.

When Damiari insisted on being joined, Watila ordered the lawyer to sit down as he would not entertain any attempt to ridicule his court.

“Please sit down. You cannot arrest my judgment. This is not a kangaroo court. Neither am I a politician,” Watila said.

While delivering his judgment, Watila also noted that the defendants in the suit were appropriately served but failed to enter appearance in the suit, adding that would not be an excuse for him not to rule on the application.

Watila declared that the July 4 judgment of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt recognised the May 21 National Convention which produced the National Caretaker Committee has not been appealed against or set aside, hence it behoves the court to protect that judgment.

“It is necessary for the defendants to carry out their respective functions at the 17th August, 2016,” he declared.

The court stressed that all the defendants were clearly and without dispute bound to obey the judgment.

“This court will not shy away from protecting the sanctity of its judgment. The court has held that the appointment of the PDP National Caretaker Committee is valid,” he said.