PDP, Mu'azu oppose Tukur's return as party chairman
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its National Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Mu'azu, on Wednesday at a Federal High Court in Abuja opposed the move by Alhaji Bamanga Tukur to return as the leader of the party.
Tukur resigned as the National Chairman of the party on January 15, 2014, but he has asked the court to reinstate him to the position.
He urged the court to declare that he remained the party chairman arguing that his resignation letter did not meet the requirement of the PDP's constitution, which made it mandatory for 30 days notice to be given before the resignation would become effective.
He also maintained that the National Deputy Chairman ought to have taken over the affairs of the party and not Mu'azu, who was only appointed and not elected at a national convention as prescribed by the party's constitution.
This is is contained in a counter-claim which he filed in a suit instituted by another member of the PDP, Aliyu Gurin, who is challenging the propriety of Tukur's resignation and the subsequent appointment of Mu'azu as the National Chairman of the party.
But the PDP and Mu'azu, through their counsel, Mr. Solomon Umoh (SAN), said both the main suit and Tukur's counter-claim constituted an abuse of court processes and urged Justice Evoh Chukwu to dismiss them.
Umoh argued that Tukur was, by his prayer, seeking to benefit from his wrong act of walking away without giving the party the 30 days notice.
'The court should hold that the 2nd defendant (Tukur) cannot take benefit of his wrongful act,' he added.
He said contrary to Tukur's contention, the deputy chairman of the party took over the affairs of the party and not Mu'azu, after his (Tukur's) resignation.
The lawyer argued that it was the national deputy chairman, who summoned the meeting which produced Mu'azu as the national chairman, and that the party was only waiting for the time of its national convention.
'We have practically shown when the 2nd defendant gave a beautiful speech and walked away and the deputy chairman took over in line with the party's constitution and on January 20, the deputy national chairman summoned a meeting as minutes of the meeting would show, and this gave birth to the current national chairman.'
Umoh also said such counter-claim filed by Tukur, who is a defendant in the suit, was unknown to the law as there was no provision for a defendant to file a counter-claim.
'By virtue of provisions of Order 13 Rule 35(15), all that a defendant is expected to do is to file a counter-affidavit and showcase his exhibit,' he said.
He also argued that the suit was premature as the plaintiff ought to have exhausted the remedial mechanisms prescribed in section 60 of the PDP constitution before approaching the court.
But the plaintiff's counsel, Mr. Rotimi Oguneso (SAN), argued that the defendants had not denied that Mu'azu was not produced through an election as stipulated by the party's constitution.
He urged the court to grant his prayers as compliance with provisions of the law was mandatory and not optional.
Tukur's lawyer, Adeboro Adamson, insisted that his client's counter-claim was not an abuse of court process as Order 10, Rule 3 of the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rules 2009 made provision for the filing of a counter-claim by a defendant.
But Umoh insisted that the provisions of the Order 10, Rule 3 of the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rules were only applicable when a defendant 'seeks remedy against the plaintiff,' which he said was not the situation in the suit.
The Independent National Electoral Commission through its counsel, Nelson Ani, said it would remain neutral in the case.
Like the plaintiff, Tukur maintained that he remained the national chairman of the party 'in the eyes of the law', claiming that his purported resignation from office on January 15, 2014 was null and void as it flouted provisions of section 47(5) of the party's constitution.
He also asked the court to order the PDP, the incumbent National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Adamu Mu'azu, and the INEC, 'to recognise and permit him to continue to preside over the affairs of the party till 2016.'
He maintained that having been elected for a four-year term in 2012 he ought to legally remain in office till 2016 but was forced to 'step aside' from office on January 15, 2014.
Justice Chukwu, after hearing parties in the suit reserved judgment, saying the date for delivering the judgment would be communicated to parties at the appropriate time.