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PDP: Court stops suspension of Andy Uba, others

By The Citizen

An Abuja Federal High Court on Friday stopped the suspension of Sen. Andy Uba, his brother Chris and three others by the National Working Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party.

The PDP NWC had on Thursday suspended the Uba brothers, as well as Chief Benji Udeozor, Ejike Oguebego, and Mrs. Tonia Nwankwu for conducting a parallel state congress for the nomination of a governorship candidate in Anambra State.

Andy Uba, who is seeking election as governor of the state in the November 16, 2013 poll, emerged the party's candidate in the controversial congress.

They were suspended through a letter signed by the party's Acting National Secretary, Dr. Charles Akintoye.

However, Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Abuja FHC on Friday granted an interim order 'suspending the suspension' pending the hearing and determination of a motion in which the five PDP members challenged disciplinary actions taken against them by the party.

PDP and the Inspector General of Police were listed as defendants in the suit.

The Uba brothers and the three others had on Thursday approached the Abuja FHC with an ex parte motion, asking the court to stop PDP from suspending them, but Justice Mohammed directed that the party must first come before him on Friday to explain why the prayers sought by the plaintiffs should not be granted.

At the resumption of hearing in the matter on Friday, PDP counsel, Clems Ezika, said the order directing the party to appear before the court to show cause was not served on the party.

Instead, he said the party was only served with the motion ex parte, the affidavit in support of the motion ex parte, written addresses and exhibits.

Ezika, as a result, asked the court to give him three days, in line with the rules of the court, to reply to the motion and thereby show why the court should not grant it.

Counsel to the plaintiffs, Abe Taiwo, opposed PDP's application for an adjournment, and insisted that the order to appear before the court to show cause why the ex parte motion should not be granted was served on the party.

At the behest of Justice Mohammed, a court clerk perused the court records and it was discovered that, indeed, the order directing PDP to appear before the court to show cause was served on the party at its national secretariat on Thursday.

Having failed to appear before the court on Friday to explain why the motion filed by the Uba brothers and their colleagues should not be granted as ordered, Justice Mohammed therefore granted the ex parte motion and stopped the suspension of the plaintiffs.

As a result, he gave 'an order of interim injunction restraining the defendants/respondents (PDP, IG) by themselves or their agents, privies, servants, national officers, disciplinary committee or whatsoever from enforcing or carrying into effect, acting upon or giving effect, or doing anything whatsoever pursuant to the suspension letter issued and signed on all the plaintiffs/applicants by the Acting National Secretary of the 1st defendant/respondent dated 29 August, 2013, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice dated 28 day of August 2013.'

In the same vein, the judge also made an order of interim injunction 'restraining the disciplinary committee constituted by the PDP to try the plaintiffs from proceeding to take any action that may jeopardise the plaintiffs' membership status at the PDP, pending the hearing and determination of the motion.'

Earlier, while urging the court to grant the ex parte motion, counsel to the plaintiffs, Taiwo, had informed the court that PDP tricked his clients into coming to the party's national secretariat to collect the suspension letters.

According to him, the acting national secretary invited them to a 'purported settlement meeting' at the party's national secretariat, only to shock and embarrass them on their arrival by issuing them with copies of the suspension letter.

Taiwo said the acting national secretary took the action immediately the party was served with the order directing it to appear before the court to explain why the plaintiffs motion should not be granted.

But PDP lawyer, Ezika, described the alleged plot to expel the plaintiffs as 'speculatory'. Justice Mohammed fixed September 5, 2013 for hearing of the plaintiffs' motion.