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PDP Crisis: Court declares caretaker committee illegal

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Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court, Lagos, has declared as invalid the caretaker committee constituted over the weekend to take over the affairs of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from its acting National Chairman, Ali Modu Sheriff.

The trial judge gave the verdict in a ruling on Tuesday, 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.

The party caretaker committee, headed by a former governor of Kaduna State, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, was appointed last Saturday after the party’s convention.

The suit was filed by the National Chairman of the party, Sheriff, the National Secretary, Adewale Oladipo and National Auditor, Fatai Adeyanju asking the court to stop the national convention pending the determination of the substantive suit.

While, the respondents in the suit are PDP and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Before the caretaker committee of the party was appointed over 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 1st, 2nd and 3rd plaintiffs respectively, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.

The court also restrained INEC from monitoring or recognising election into the offices occupied by the 1st, 2nd and 3rd plaintiffs respectively, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.
In the suit, the three national officers averred that their tenures of office were yet to lapse.

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Justice Buba in the ruling, said he would not allow his order to be violated without consequence, adding that he had an obligation to ensure his directives were obeyed. “No court can make an order in vain,” he held.

Oladipo and Adeyanju’s lawyer, Ajibola Oluyede, informed Justice Buba about an application filed yesterday in which he prayed the court to invoke its disciplinary powers.

He said: “Certain steps were taken to remove the plaintiffs from their office notwithstanding your lordship’s interlocutory injunction which restrained the respondents from taking such steps.

“The steps were taken over the weekend to remove them and it was during the pendency of this action. It is for that reason that we were constrained to file this application. We seek your lordship’s disciplinary jurisdiction to bring back matters to the status quo based on the order of May 12.”

Justice Buba said although Oluyede’s application was not ripe for hearing, he was bound to protect the court’s sanctity against violation of its orders. He said to ignore flouting a court order is to invite anarchy.

He quoted Section 287 (3) of the 1999 Constitution, which says: “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.”

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The judge added: “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,” he said.

The judge warned the Makarfi-led committee “not to act in that capacity in defiance of this order.”

In a separate suit, on May 17, the court nullified the South West zonal congress of the party over alleged disobedience to the court which restrained it from conducting any congress in the zone pending determination of a suit.

Another court, presided by Justice Muhammed Idris, last week Friday, warned the party on the issue of parallel congress, which may void the proceeding of the suit pending in his court over the party’s crisis.

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