Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Abuja division of the Federal High Court hearing the case of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Convention suit has adjourned the matter indefinitely, pending the outcome of the matter before an Appeal Court.
The factional Chairman of the party, Ali Modu Sheriff, had filed a suit at the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja challenging the legality of the party’s convention held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, in a ruling yesterday, told parties in the suit that he had to adjourned the matter indefinitely because of an interlocutory appeal filed by the Makarfi-led group before the Court of Appeal.
The judge however took a swipe at the group over the notice of appeal which had challenged the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit, noting that the issue was never moved before the court, before it was made as a ground for appeal.
Abang, in his ruling said there is no doubt that the 3rd to 9th defendants (the Makarfi -led caretaker committee) have transmitted records of appeal against decision of the court.
He said the interlocutory appeal is against the decision of court which granted an order of injunction stopping the 2nd defendant (PDP), from embarking on its national convention.
The court however, held that the appeal had nothing against the substantive claim of the plaintiff, adding that there are no grounds of appeal on the issue of jurisdiction.
According to him, parties raise an appeal on jurisdiction without having grounds to it.
“This court has not taken any decision as to whether or not it has jurisdiction, there is no grounds of appeal challenging the jurisdiction of the court, and the court cannot rely on the relief sought in their notice of appeal at the court of appeal on the grounds of jurisdiction.
“If the 3rd to 9th defendants intend to raise issues of the grounds of jurisdiction at the court of appeal, it should have raised the issue before the Federal High Court and await a decision on it before filing an appeal without grounds on it,” Justice Abang averred.
The judge stated further: The actions of the defendants here is to hinder the administration of justice. I have a challenge in this matter, the challenge I have here is that, notwithstanding the fact that the interlocutory appeal of the defendants is not attacking the substantive claims of the plaintiff, and the outcome of the appeal, in my view, would not affect the substantive claims because the issue of jurisdiction has no grounds of appeal.
“The appeal of the defendant has been entered at the Court of Appeal, the law is settled that once an appeal is entered, this court ceases to have jurisdiction to entertain the suit pending the outcome of the appeal.
“Notwithstanding the arguments of the counsel to the plaintiff (Sheriff) and 2nd defendants, my hands are tied, pending the decision of the Court of Appeal, this matter is adjourned sine die.”
Recall that Justice Abang in an earlier ruling, declared the Makarfi-led Caretaker Committee illegal and unconstitutional on the grounds that it flouted a subsisting order of the Lagos division which had restrained the PDP from either embarking on a national convention or constituting a caretaker committee.