- Anger/Confusion Trails One Year Extension For Makarfi As Sheriff Holds On To Chairmanship
- Dokpesi Talks Tough, Disowns Govs’ Actions
Abuja The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Ndahi Auta may
have taken steps to correct inconsistencies in court pronouncements, especially over
the leadership tussle in the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, over which the integrity of the judiciary has been challenged. Our correspondent learnt that Justice Auta who cut short his
vacation outside the country and returned to Abuja has ordered for cases files relating to the matter to 37 be brought to him with a view to consolidating issues in the various
applications, even as he may have frowned at the conducts of some judges in the matter.
Sources close to the Federal High Court hinted that, the fiery Chief Judge has equally requested each of the judges handling matters relating to the PDP imbroglio to adequately brief him, so that he can take steps to correct impressions created about the judges to the effect that they have been compromised.
Our correspondent reports that the chief judge had made earlier attempts to arrest the situation, by directing all judges handling PDP matters to strictly look at issues from the legal view point, and to avoid being influenced by politicians.
It may be recalled that different pronouncements by different judges over the PDP leadership crisis seems to be taking toll on the integrity of the judiciary, necessitating the latest moves to arrest the situation.
While some initially made sense, and portrayed the excellence for which the Nigerian judiciary has been know for, others made a mockery of the judiciary, to the effect that recent pronouncements by judges of the Federal High Court in matters relating to the leadership tussle in the PDP, may draw the ire of the higher authorities.
And so, apparently embarrassed with conflicting court orders and judgments coming from High Court Judges arising from the numerous litigations in the PDP leadership tussle, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta may have began moves in order to correct public impressions about court pronouncements.
Sources said the CJ who returned from a trip abroad was not pleased with some of the issues arising from recent court orders, and is set to probe the conducts of some judges alleged to have compromised due processes and the law in the discharge of their duties.
Our correspondent reports that, several petitions may have flooded the National Judicial Commission, NJC and the office of the Chief Judge of the Federal High Courts, complaining about judgments in the PDP leadership imbroglio and the conduct of some judges who may have delivered unfavourable judgments, prompting the NJC to commence investigations into the allegations, which have tended to impugned on the integrity of the judiciary.
Sources close to the Executive secretary of the NJC confirmed to us that, there are several petitions bordering on alleged misconduct by judges, some of which were adjudged to be grievous, and cannot be swept under the carpet, hence the Chief Justice of the Federation’s unreserved interest in them.
According to the source, the several scathing remarks against the judiciary from Nigerians leave the judicial arm with no choice than to make a holistic purge of the system, and may have forwarded the petitions to the affected judges for their comments before full investigation commences.
It was not immediately clear how many petitions have so far been written, but our correspondent confirms that there was a petition on Justice N. Ogbonna of the FCT High Court over the matter. We also reliably gathered that there is a petition on Justice Liman of the Port Harcourt High Court, the details of which are not yet clear.
Sources close to the NJC told us that, the investigations may cover the controversial vacation of the order by the Federal High Court Lagos on May 12 and 20th, which restrained the PDP from appointing or electing persons into the offices of the National Chairman, National Secretary and National Auditor of the PDP, by the Port Harcourt Division of the Court.
Controversy was sparked off when Justice Liman of the Port Harcourt Division of the Federal High Court seemingly arrested Justice Ibrahim Buba’s orders even when he knew that the matter was pending before another judge of coordinate jurisdiction, and there was a subsisting order of the court on the matter. That order had not been vacated, before he went ahead validating the appointment of the caretaker Committee, led by Senator Ahmed Makarfi.
In seeming desperation to pave way for the aborted convention of May 21, politicians approached the court in Port Harcourt and cajoled the court to grant their request, thereby opening the floodgate for several other conflicting judgments from the courts, consequent upon which several petitions were to follow.
In a move to correct the situation, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta ordered for the consolidation of the earlier suit in Lagos and the Port Harcourt own, but reports indicate that while Justice Buba complied with the directive, Justice Liman, ostensibly with the prompting of some interested parties hastily delivered judgment on the matter.
Auta was said to have been furious and remitted justice Buba’s file back to Lagos with the instruction that he should continue. But in the meantime, Sheriff had approached another Federal High Court in Abuja, seeking to revalidate Justice Buba’s orders and nullified Makarfi’s caretaker Committee. The order was granted by Justice Okon Abang, who made spirited moves to make his colleagues respect the procedures to the effect that they should revert to Justice Buba, since his orders were still subsisting.
Several imputations were made interpreting the orders by the judges to suit selfish purposes. But in a seeming move to correct the impression created by Liman’s orders, which created the initial precedence, Justice Abang made far reaching corrective and preservative rulings, all of which were not complied with.
Our correspondent reports that, the contradictory orders seemed to have given some elements in the PDP the leverage to continue manipulating other judges while flagrantly ignoring orders that do not favour them, which led to yet another hasty court judgment by Justice Ibrahim Watila still from the Port Harcourt Division.
Watila had given a nod for the convention to hold, and the police and INEC were pronounced duty bound to ensure its success. The Police however acted otherwise, when they sensed that there may be breakdown of law and order, should the convention be allowed to hold.
Security reports indicated that, while the Governors led by Nyeson Wike of rivers state were plotting to return Jimmy Agbaje as the National Chairman, the duo of Bode George and Raymond Dokpesi; both of them interested in the job were poised for a showdown during the convention, which the police relied upon to abort it, addition to the court orders.
In the aftermath of the aborted convention, Raymond Dokpesi, has disclosed that the court order received by the National Chairman of the party, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, frustrated the anointed candidate of the governors elected on the platform of the party, Jimi Agbaje, to emerge as national chairman’
In a statement by Omor Bazuaye, the spokespersons of the Raymond Dokpesi Campaign, on Friday, Dokpesi said the postponement of the convention in Port Harcourt, Rivers State was “a blessing in disguise”, stressing that, it assisted in no small measure to prevent a situation that could have further complicated the crisis with the kind of fictionalization that could have trailed the convention had it gone ahead as scheduled.
For him, Sheriff’s court action was the saving grace as delegate were ready to battle their governors, saying he swallowed his pride to approach Sheriff on the matter, pointing out that once he had spoken with the former Governor of Borno State, he doesn’t believe Sheriff means bad for the PDP.
On its part, the Caretaker Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party, led by Senator Ahmed Makarfi and some of the PDP Governors who pushed for the aborted National Convention in Port Harcourt has been thrown into confusion having realized that the extension of 12 months for the caretaker Committee has brought about cracks in their camp.
Since returning to their bases after the aborted convention, nationalTRAIL observed that, those who earlier boasted that the convention must hold seem to have swallowed their pride, as they make frantic attempts to appease Senator Ali Sheriff, who holds tenaciously to the leadership of the PDP.
Our correspondent who have been monitoring events reports that, the suspension of the Port Harcourt convention by justice Okon Abang came to the duo of governors Nyesom Wike of Rivers state and Ayo Fayose of Ekiti as a big surprise, having told their followers earlier that no law can stop the port Harcourt event, as they have already paid their ways with agencies involved in the matter.
The Police, acting on the orders of Justice Okon Abang of the Abuja High Court, halting the exercise had dispersed thousands who thronged the port city for the convention. In apparent confusion, Governor Wike unilaterally elongated the tenured of the Caretaker Committee, hoping to buy time, but other stakeholders do not seem impressed.
Our correspondent reports that their jubilation over a controversial order from Port Harcourt, asking INEC and the Police to monitor the convention was cut short by Justice Okon Abang’s preservative order which placed embargo on the National Convention, and asking all parties to obey the order.
The fiery judge who had earlier outlawed the caretaker committee, and voided any action or actions they may have taken since May 21st when they came on board, stated inter alia,”All parties must respect the decision of the court. Parties are hereby restrained from proceeding with any convention in Port Harcourt or anywhere in direct violation of the applications before the court, in which Senator Makarfi and 5 others have been joined in the case. Therefore, in exercise of my disciplinary jurisdiction, I hereby suspend the PDP convention in Port Harcourt slated for 17th August, 2016”.
He noted that, the applicant in the Port Harcourt suit, and Secretary of the caretaker Committee, Ben Obi, must appear before him to show cause why he should not be sent to prison for contempt and abusing court Process, as he had filed a similar suit to the one in Port Harcourt, before abandoning it to seek redress before another judge of coordinate jurisdiction.
Justice Okon Abang warned on the consequences of any sort of disobedience to his orders, stressing that, no judge of coordinate powers is supposed to entertain any matter already pending before another, and that taking into cognizance the pending applications before him, and the attendant earlier orders from Lagos which had not been vacated, nothing should be done to tamper with his rulings.
Our correspondent further learnt that Justice Abang had received several threat letters from unknown persons following his insistence on due process and the rule of law, and had to be smuggled out of the High Court complex on several occasions when it became obvious that his life was under threat.
The judge who had not hidden his disdain for political rascality we learnt was asked to do justice in the matter of the PDP, so as to bail the system from the several embarrassments occasioned by earlier controversial orders emanating from Port Harcourt in particular.
Before Justice Abang’s order, most of the Governors and some BOT members have been sneaking into Sheriff’s Maitama residence to pledge loyalty and assure him that they were only playing on Nwike and Fayose’s intelligence, as they knew their quests to take over the PDP will not go anywhere.
Justice Okon Abang had earlier warned politicians on dragging the judiciary into its political fights by causing judges to give conflicting orders, saying, judges have a duty to interpret the laws, and not take sides in matters like politics.
By Naomi DOUGLAS, Abuja