The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday suspended the planned convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), slated for August 17 in Port Harcourt.
Justice Okon Abang, who gave the interim order, said he did so in the interest of justice to both parties in a suit pending before him.
Abang also said the order was issued to curb the excesses of some parties in the matter as well as to serve as a disciplinary action against those treating the court with levity.
He said this was with particular reference to Senator Ben Obi, a member of the caretaker committee of the party.
Obi had obtained an order from a Federal High Court, Port Harcourt division, in which the Police, the DSS and the Director-General of DSS were restrained from interfering in the Port Harcourt convention.
The ex-parte order was issued by Justice Ibrahim Watila of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt division.
The ex-parte order had also directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to supervise and monitor the convention planned by the Sen. Ahmed Makarfi-led faction and the Board of Trustees of the party.
Justice Abang, whose attention was drawn to a copy of the ex-parte order obtained by Obi, said the action of Obi in filing the motion was in bad taste.
Obi had been joined as a party in the suit before the judge.
Abang held that Obi secretly went to Port Harcourt to obtain the said order when he knew that he was a party seeking to be joined in the suit filed by the Ali Modu-Sheriff faction seeking to stop the convention.
He also said a court of coordinate jurisdiction cannot make an order that will neutralise another court of coordinate jurisdiction.
“Obi cannot undermine the authority of this court; having become aware of the pendency of this matter, he ought to have waited for the outcome of this court.
He cannot slap the court in the face and expect the court to grant him any indulgence.
Democracy is not anchored on the whims and caprices of anybody; it is also not anchored on self-help; Obi cannot treat the court with levity.
It is unfortunate and unfair that he approached the Port Harcourt court for the ex-parte order which was granted to him.
To curb the excesses of the recalcitrant party and to prove that courts are not bull dogs that can bark but cannot bite, I am inclined to grant the request of Sheriff.
I hereby make an order suspending the PDP convention of Aug. 17 in exercise of my disciplinary jurisdiction to maintain the dignity and integrity of the court,” Abang ruled.
Abang had joined Senators Ahmed Makarfi, Ben Obi, Odion Ugbesia, Abdul Ningi, Kabiru Usman, Dayo Adeyeye and Aisha Aliyu individually as parties to Sheriff’s suit as defendants.
The judge refused to grant the stay of execution of the ruling of July 28 in which he affirmed the leadership of the Sheriff-led faction of the PDP.
Abang said that Ferdinand Orbih (SAN), who made the request for stay of execution on behalf of the Makarfi-led faction, lacked the locus standi to make the request because he was not a party to the suit that brought the ruling.
The court described the lawyer as a “busy-body” and a “meddlesome interloper” and imposed N50,000 fine on him for attempting to thwart the proceedings of the court.
Abang frowned at the claim of Orbih that he had filed an appeal against the ruling adding that the lawyer failed to put the notice of the appeal at the disposal of the court.
He said his claim that he had transmitted the court’s record to the appellate court was an exercise in futility because he did not obtain the court’s permission before doing so.
The court also dismissed an application brought by one Sikiru Ogundele asking Abang to disqualify himself from the matter on account of bias.
Abang said Ogundele was not a party to the suit hence could not seek reliefs.
Ali Modu-Sheriff had filed a suit seeking to stop the planned PDP convention in Port Harcourt.
He prayed the court to stop it on the grounds that it was being organised by a body not recognised under the law.
But Abang said that the motion would not be heard until all the parties were served notices and made an interim order instead.
He adjourned hearing of the motion in the matter until August 16.