By Naomi DOUGLAS, Abuja
Fines Makarfi N50, 000, Intrigues Take Centre Stage As Govs Move Against Wike, Fayose
Odds Against Caretaker Committee As Deadline Expires
Judiciary Moves To Correct Lapses In Court Judgments
The Caretaker Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party, led by Senator Ahmed Makarfi and some of the PDP Governors who have been pushing for the National Convention to hold in Port Harcourt despite obvious odds have been thrown into confusion following the Abuja High Court order, halting the exercise. 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. In reserving his final ruling on sheriff’s application seeking to stop the Port Harcourt event for Tuesday August 16, 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. Our correspondent reports that, apparently rushing to beat the expiration of the three months dateline which expires on Saturday 20th August, given to it to round up, the caretaker committee of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, led by Senator Ahmed Makarfi has been pushing ahead with the national convention of the party in Port Harcourt, threatening to ignore any injunction granted by Justice any Court, restraining the party from doing so. 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 Nyeson 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. Sources close to the two governors told nationalTRAIL that, the Governors of Bayelsa, Seriake Dickson, Taraba’s Darius Ishaku, Gombe’s Hassan Dankwambo and that of Akwa Ibom, Udom Emmanuel and Enugu, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi had earlier kept away from preparations for the Port Harcourt convention, having sensed that it will amount to illegality and promotion of impunity, which the PDP has been accused of harbouring. 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 Wike and Fayose’s intelligence, as they knew their quests to take over the PDP will not go anywhere. In seeming desperation to stamp their authorities, , Governor Wike and Fayose were said to have called an emergency caucus meeting of their group with members of the caretaker Committee, whose tenure will expire on August 20th, with a view to looking for a way out of the confusion that has now beset their camp. nationalTRAIL gathered that, with the Nigerian judiciary being virtually on trial following allegations of bribery and compromise that trailed the conflicting court orders from several courts of coordinate jurisdiction over the leadership tussle in the opposition Peoples Democratic Party PDP, the CJN as head of the National Judicial Commission may have begun investigations into the allegations contained in several petitions over the controversial judgements coming from Port Harcourt. 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. Sources said, the judiciary, apparently embarrassed with conflicting court orders and judgments coming from High Court Judges arising from the numerous litigations in the PDP leadership tussle, may have initiated moves to probe the conducts of some judges accused of compromising due processes and the law in the discharge of
their duties. Our correspondent reports that, following several petitions from each of the parties in the conflict, accusing judges who delivered unfavourable judgments of one misconduct or another, the NJC may soon convene to with a view to commencing 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 regulatory body with no choice than to forward the petitions to the affected judges for their comments before full investigation commences.