PARTY CHIEF ASKS COURT TO VOID WAIVER FOR ATIKU
Court rejects Jonathan's bid to stop suit
AHEAD of the 2011 presidential elections, the game of wit between political opponents continued yesterday with a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Sadiq Aliyu Jada, praying an Abuja High Court to nullify the waiver granted former Vice President Abubakar Atiku to return to the party.
Meanwhile, the court presided over by a judge, Ishaq Bello, yesterday refused the bid by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to stop the hearing of another suit filed by perceived loyalists of Atiku, seeking to thwart his (Jonathan's) presidential ambition.
In the action initiated via an originating summons, Jada is praying the court for an order of injunction, restraining the party from fielding Atiku as one of the aspirants in the forthcoming presidential primaries of the party scheduled for January 13, 2011 or even taking part as a candidate in the presidential polls.?
Jada joined the PDP, its National Chairman, Dr. Okwesileze Nwodo and National Secretary, Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje and the former Vice President.
The plaintiff is also praying the court for an order of injunction, restraining the defendants by themselves, their organs, agents, committees by whatever name or description whatsoever from taking steps or further actions towards recognising, screening, clearing, attending to and/or considering whatsoever the fourth defendant for the purposes of aspiring, contesting or standing for election for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria or for any office whatsoever on the platform of the 1st defendant.
Jada also prayed the court for an order restraining the defendants from or their organs 'from any act or thing in breach or infraction of the 1st defendant (PDP) constitution whatsoever.'
Accordingly, he also asked the court for an injunctive order compelling the 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants to comply, respect and be bound by the provisions of the 1st defendant's constitution for the time being in force. ?
The plaintiff also wants the court to declare that defendants and their agents or privies are bound by the constitution of the 1st defendant and so the provisions of Article 10 (b) (iii), Article 8.4 (a), Article 8.5 and Article 17.2 (g) of the 1st defendant's constitution, 2009 (as amended) as binding and subsisting on the defendants, their organs, agents and privies'.
Aside from this, he is asking the court for 'a declaration that the waiver for readmission to stand for election purportedly granted or given the 4th defendant by the National Working Committee and/or the National Executive Committee of the 1st defendant is in breach and violation of the 1st defendant's constitution having failed to follow the due process and /or meet up the condition precedent stipulated by Article 10 (b) (iii) of the said constitution and therefore null and void abinitio, and has no effect whatsoever and therefore does not avail the 4th defendant eligibility to contest or stand for election for the office of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria or any election whatsoever on the platform of the 1st defendant'.
But in a related development, the suit filed by some loyalists of the former Vice President was yesterday adjourned to January 6, 2011 for hearing of arguments on the consolidated preliminary objections and substantive case.
Justice Bello adjourned the suit instituted by Ambassador Yahaya Kwande, Mr. Dubem Onyia and Alhaji Lawal Kaita till January 6, 2011, after overruling the objection filed by President Jonathan, opposing the hearing of the suit during vacation.
The plaintiffs in the suit are challenging attempts by the PDP to jettison the zoning arrangements reached with regards to the presidential seat, a decision that is believed to have conferred undue advantage on Jonathan.
When the matter was mentioned, the president's counsel, Dr. Alex Aigbe Izinyon (SAN), contended that it was wrong for the court to hear the matter during vacation without the consent of all parties.
PDP's counsel, Chief Joe Kyari-Gadzama (SAN), who was just coming into the matter did not take a position on that, but prayed for a short adjournment to enable all parties regularise their briefs.
But Atiku's counsel, Rickey Tarfa (SAN), submitted that it was needless for Izinyon (SAN) to raise such objection at this stage when he was in court and agreed to the matter being adjourned to yesterday.
In its ruling, the judge said Izinyon's objection was of 'no moment', since according to him, he is not on vacation and can therefore not be encumbered by any provision requiring the consent of all parties to a matter before sitting over it.
The judge advised counsel and litigants to do away with technicalities and embrace fair play and maturity in order to help the court and the country evolve a lasting democracy.