THE Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, on Monday, granted an interim injunction restraining the immediate past acting national chairman and the national secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ali Modu Sheriff and Professor Adewale Oladipo, respectively, from parading themselves as national officers of the party.
Also, the Federal High Court in Lagos, declared as invalid, the caretaker committee constituted at the weekend, headed by a former Governor of Kaduna State, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, to take over the affairs of the PDP from Sheriff.
Sheriff and Oladipo’s restraining injunction followed a motion ex parte, dated and filed on May 23, by PDP before the Federal High Court, joining Sheriff, Oladipo, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Inspector-General of Police and the Department of State Service (DSS) as defendants/respondents.
The duo were removed from office via the PDP national convention, held in Port Harcourt, last Saturday and in which a caretaker committee, headed by Senator Ahmad Makarfi, was put in place to oversee the affairs of the party for the next 90 days.
The presiding judge, Justice A. M. Liman, granted the restraining order, pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice brought before the court by PDP.
The court gave the order upon reading the Affidavit of Urgency in support of the motion ex parte sworn to by Rivers PDP chairman, Mr Felix Obuah and after hearing from the PDP’s counsel, Dejo Laminkanra.
The trial judge ordered that the first and second respondents or any/or all of the PDP national officers, its NEC and National Working Committee (NWC) members, who had been removed from office through the national convention, should restrain from parading themselves, either individually or collectively, in those capacities, pending the determination of the Motion on Notice.
Justice Liman also ordered that INEC should stop according recognition to the first and second respondents or any and/or all the PDP national officers, NEC and NWC members, having been removed from office in those capacities.
Delivering the judgment on the caretaker committeee’s sack, Justice Ibrahim Buba directed the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Solomon Arase, to enforce his order and also arrest whoever parades himself as member of caretaker committee of the party.
Before the caretaker committee of the party was appointed at the weekend, the court had earlier, granted an order of interlocutory injunction, restraining the party and INEC from conducting any election into the offices of the National Chairman, National Secretary and National Auditor occupied by the first, second and third plaintiffs respectively, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.
The judge warned the Makarfi-led committee not to act in that capacity in defiance of the order.
Before the ruling, there was mild drama, as two lawyers, Ahmed Raji and Godswill Morakpor, were locked in a heated argument over who, between them, was authorised to represent PDP, as both announced appearance for the PDP.
Morakpor said he was the one authorised to represent PDP, not Raji.
“Today is like a nightmare to me. I never envisaged a situation, where I would be dragging a client with a senior member of the Bar. We have filed a notice of change of counsel and served on the learned SAN,” he said.
Raji claimed he was not served with an application for change of counsel for PDP. The court’s bailiff was sent for and he confirmed that he, indeed, served Raji with the application at his office.
Ruling, Justice Buba held that Morakpor was the recognised counsel for PDP.
Reacting, Senator Sheriff claimed ignorance of any court order barring him from parading himself as the party boss pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice now before the court.
Speaking to the Nigerian Tribune on Tuesday, through his Special Assistant on Media, Inuwa Bwala, he said he was not aware of any court order.
He said as a law-abiding citizen, he was obeying the orders already served on him and was not prepared to make further comments on order not run foul of the law.
Asked if Sheriff was still claiming the post of the national chairman despite the latest court order, he said: “I don’t want to say anything that will run foul of the law.”