Court declines to hear suit on Uche Secondus as Kebbi vacates order reinstating him as PDP chairman

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has declined to hear on a suit seeking to restrain the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and any of its members from calling, summoning, or presiding over any meeting, except it is called by Prince Uche Secondus.

The suit filed by Secondus’ loyalist is seeking to restraining PDP and any other members of the party from calling, summoning or presiding over any meeting of the party whatsoever including the meeting of any committee, congress or national convention except the one called by Secondus, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.

Justice Tijjani Ringim declined to entertain the suit on the ground that the suit is unripe for hearing and that the defendants are yet to respond to the motion.

Applicants in the suit marked FHC/L/CS/1117/2021, are Eddy Olafeso; Alhaji Rashidi Olakunle Sunmonu; Daisi Akintan; Hon. Bunmi Jenyo; Hon. Wahab Owokoniran

While those joined as respondents alongside the party are: Secondus; Elder Yomi Akinwonmi (PDP Deputy National Chairman, South); Senator Suleiman (PDP Deputy National Chairman, North); Senator Ibrahim Tsauri (National Secretary, PDP); Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) were first to seven respondents in the suit respectively.

At the resumed hearing of the matter on Thursday, counsel to the applicants, Chimezie Victor Ihekweazu (SAN) told the court that his client’s motion on notice was ripe for hearing following a ruling delivered by the court on September 1, that all parties in the suit be put on notice while the court fixed September 9 for hearing of the suit.

However, Chucks Ugo announced his appearance for the party and Senator Ibrahim Tsauri, the party’s national Secretary (first and fifth respondents) while Mr Oladayo Ilori, holding the brief of Mr Olatunbosun Osifowora also claimed to be representing all the defendants except Secondus (second defendant) in the suit. Both Chucks and Oladayo informed the court that they all have the mandate of the respondents to represent them in the suit.

The presiding judge, Justice Ringim, held that the two counsel were in disharmony and could not represent the same client at the same time.

Consequently, Justice Ringim urged the parties to resolve the issue of legal representation.

Meanwhile, a Kebbi state high court has vacated the order it made returning Uche Secondus as national chairman of the PDP.

Newsmen report that a High Court in Rivers state had On August 23, granted an interim order restraining Secondus from parading himself as the national chairman of the party.

But on August 26, Nusirat Umar, judge of a High court in Kebbi state, ordered that the execution of the previous order barring Secondus from parading himself as national chairman be suspended, pending when the suit is heard and concluded.

Umar had given the order while delivering the ruling in a motion ex parte brought in a suit marked KB/AC/M.170/2021.

However, delivering the ruling on Thursday in another suit marked KB/HC/M.191/2021, filed by one Ibeawuchi Ernest Alex and four other persons, Umar made a U-turn from her previous pronouncement.

“I equally agree that Kebbi state high court has no jurisdiction to hear and determine a matter that has been filed and determined in any high court in Nigeria, the reason being it is a court of co-ordinate jurisdiction.

“Furthermore, I also agree that the claimants’/respondents’ counsel failed to disclose to the court the true subject matter of this matter, namely the suspension of the first defendant, Prince Uche Secondus, from the membership of the second defendant (Peoples Democratic Party) by ward 5, Ikuru town, Andoni local government area of Rivers state

“There is no doubt that the court was misled by the failure of the claimants’/respondents’ counsel to disclose the true facts to the court which necessitated the court granting the ex parte order on 26/8/2021.

“This situation created by the claimants’/respondents’ counsel caused unnecessary embarrassment to the Nigerian judiciary. It is important to state that jurisdiction is very fundamental to the matter adjudication. Whatever proceedings are conducted by the court is null and void no matter how well the proceeding has been conducted.

“I cannot end this ruling without commenting on the attitude of the claimants’/respondents’ counsel, a senior lawyer, who has been practising for many years and who is supposed to be a minister in the temple of justice engaging in misleading the court and being economical with the true fact of the case. These acts are condemnable.

“Flowing from the above, I entirely agree with the submissions of the applicant’s counsel that the ex parte order which was granted by this court on 26/8/2021 ought to be set aside, even by the Kebbi State High Court Civil Procedure Rules 2017, particularly under Order 39 Rules 3 (3) which provides ‘an order of injunction made upon an application ex parte shall abate after seven days’.

“Generally, the court lacks jurisdiction to hear and determine the following: Motion no KB/HC/M.170/2021, substantive suit no KB/HC/22/2021. I hereby set aside the order ex parte application granted on 26/08/2021 in motion no KB/HC/M.170/2021.

“I equally strike out motion on notice no KB/HC/M.170/2021 and the substantive suit no KB/HC/22/2021 for lack of jurisdiction”, Umar ruled.

The court’s new decision may not be unconnected to the stern warning issued to judges by Ibrahim Muhammad, chief justice of Nigeria (CJN), over granting of conflicting ex parte orders.

The CJN had summoned seven chief judges, including the Kebbi CJ.

After a meeting with the judges on Monday, the CJN asked three judges to appear before the National Judicial Council (NJC) to show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken against them for granting the conflicting ex parte orders.

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