By Judex Okoro, The Sun Newspaper
- Refuses to grant interlocutory injunction
Palpable fear and tension have gripped some members of PDP in Cross River following the withdrawal of Justice Elias Abua from a suit challenging the inauguration of ward and Local Governments Executive Committees.
Following the directive by the National Working Committee (NWC) of PDP, the ward executive committee members were inaugurated in 196 wards of the State on Thursday, April 30, 2020, and were sworn-in by a Notary Public, Okimasi Ojong, Esq, principal partner of Barr Okimasi Ojong and Co, in accordance with the provisions of Section 65 of the PDP Constitution as amended in 2017.
Piqued by NWC’s action, Ayade faction, led by Ntufam Edim Inok, the caretaker Chairman of PDP, in collaboration with some party members including Messers Otu Edet Marshall, Terence Orok, Raphael Stephen Ntui and Henry Ekpenyong Edem (all applicants) instituted a legal action challenging the inauguration of ward and Local Government Executive Committees.
The applicants had claimed to have emerged in the ward congress conducted by Ntufam Edim Inok-led State Executive Committee but was not inaugurated. Consequently, they sued the PDP, the National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, National Organising Secretary, Col. Austin Akobundu (rted) and State Chairman of PDP, Ntufam Edim Inok.
In a Suit No HC/178/2020 and dated July 2, 2020, the claimants prayed the Court to restrain the national leadership of the party from acting on any list except one submitted by the Cross River PDP in relation to the recently conducted ward and Local Government congresses in the State.
After listening to the motion, Justice Elias Abua withdrew from the case and refused to grant the claimants prayers that the Court restrain the national leadership of the party from acting on any list except one submitted by the Edim Inok-led State Executive in relation to the March 7 and 21, 2020 ward and Local Government congresses in the State.
Justice Abua, who took the decision during a vacation Court sitting at High Court complex, Calabar on Wednesday, August 2020, refused to grant interlocutory injunction and rather returned the file to the Acting Chief Judge, Justice Maurice Eneji, for reassignment.
He ruled: “I am a man of integrity and has worked hard to earn my reputation and wouldn’t want to soil it for any reason.
“I would return the case file to the Ag. Chief Judge of Cross River State for re-assignment.”
By this ruling, there are uneasy calm at the party secretariat at Murtala Mohammed Highway as some members of the State Executive Committee were shell-shocked at the outcome of the Court ruling.
One of the officers, who don’t want their names in print said: “We are just confused and don’t know what to do anymore. We are waiting for directive for the above on the next line of action as regards the Saturday, August 8 State Congress.
“With this ruling, it means only the authentic ward and chapter cacos as inaugurated by the National Working Committee of PDP will be the recognised excos that will be allowed into the venue of the congress”.
Reacting, the Counsel to PDP, MBA Ukweni, SAN, said: “After listening to the learned Justice deliver his ruling, I dodged off my hat for him because I have known him a man of honour and integrity.
“What he did today is true to his character because Justice is rooted in confidence. So, once a party to dispute doesn’t have confidence in the adjudicator, it becomes something else. I amend him for not wanting to dent his reputation by doing the honourable thing which Honourable Judges do in matters as this.”
Ukweni explained that the case before His Lordship was not a vacation case because it is not an urgent one, contending that picking on vacation as this is like sitting on public holidays and Courts don’t sit on holidays.
According to him, trying to obtain an injunction five months after the congresses were held is self-induced urgent because the State congress is coming up on Saturday, August 8, 2020.
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