Suspended National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus, has moved against the party’s national convention slated for October 30 and 31, 2021. According to Secondus, the PDP cannot go ahead with its plans to hold the convention with his appeal against his suspension yet to be determined.
Consequently, Secondus, through his lawyer, Mr. Tayo Oyetibo, has written to the leadership of the PDP to warn that it would be illegal for the party to hold the convention pending the hearing of an appeal he filed against his suspension. Recall that a High Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, had on September 10, 2021 delivered a judgement restraining Secondus from performing the functions of the office of National Chairman of the PDP.
Secondus had filed an appeal at the Port Harcourt Division of the Court of Appeal seeking to upturn the judgement of the lower court. The letter from Secondus’ lawyers to the PDP reads: “We act for the appellant in the above captioned matter, Prince Uche Secondus, who was the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), prior to the institution of Suit Number PHC/2183/CS/2021, and wish to bring to your attention the following facts:
“On 23 August 2021 one Mr Ibeawuchi E. Alex and four others jointly instituted Suit No PHC/2183/CS/2021 at the High Court of Rivers State, Port Harcourt Judicial Division against Prince Uche Secondus and the PDP as Defendants.
“On 10 September 2021, the High Court of Rivers State delivered its judgment in the Suit whereby Prince Uche Secondus was, inter alia, restrained from performing the functions of the office of National Chairman of the PDP.
“An appeal has been filed and entered against the judgment at the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt Judicial Division. In addition, an Application on Notice has been filed in which Prince Uche Secondus is seeking, inter alia, the following orders:
“An Order of injunction restraining the Peoples Democratic Party, the 6th Respondent herein, whether by itself, its officers, servants, agents and or representatives from holding or conducting its National Convention scheduled for 30 and 31st October 2021 or any other date, pending the hearing and final determination of this appeal.
“The application has since been served on you and other Respondents in the appeal. Notwithstanding the service of the Application for injunction, it has come to the Notice of our client that the PDP and its officers continue to prepare to hold the National Convention on 30 and 31 October 2021
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“This letter is intended to draw your attention to the position of the law of Nigeria on this subject as encapsulated in the judgment of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in the celebrated case of GOVERNOR OF LAGOS STATE vs. CHIEF EMEKA ODUMEGWU OJUKWU (1986) I NWLR (Part 18) 621 @ 637, in which the court, reviewed various decisions on the point, and approved the following principles as the correct position of the law, that is:
“The rule is well settled …… that where a suit is brought to enjoin certain activities ……of which the defendant has notice, the hands of the defendant are effectually tied pending a hearing and determination even though no restraining order or preliminary injunction be issued…..
The conclusion to be drawn from all the cases is that after a defendant has been notified of the pendency of a suit seeking an injunction against him even though a temporary injunction be not granted, he acts at his peril and subject to the power of the court to restore the status wholly irrespective of the merits as they may be ultimately decided.”
“ The same position was taken by the Court of Appeal in CHIEF ELIAS OKEKE-OBA vs. IKWUKA OKOYE (1994) 8 NWLR (364) 605 @ 617-618, where the court said as follows:
“The general practice is that on application for an order for interlocutory injunction, all activities affecting the res, ….are automatically terminated as a mark of respect to the court before whom the application is pending.…..if..parties to the suit senselessly rush their tortious trespassory activities…in the spacious belief that that would promote their unfounded claims to the res. Nothing can be farther from the truth. Such heedless posture is, to say the least, a fragrant disrespect to the court. It clearly, in my opinion amounts to intransigence for a party against whom an order for injunction is sought to intensify his interference with the res.. The court cannot be hoodwinked by such impropriety of unlawful acts in relation to the res.……Nor can the person in such disrespect be allowed to take advantage of his default and flagrant intransigence.”
“ The logical corollary of the foregoing pronouncements of the courts is that having been served with an application seeking to restrain the holding of its National Convention pending the determination of the appeal filed by Prince Uche Seconds, the PDP would be embarking upon a collision course with the court if it proceeds to hold the National
“Should such contumacious conduct of holding the National Convention before the hearing and determination of the Application be embarked upon by the Party however, we shall not hesitate to bring the full weight of the law against all national officers of the Party that are responsible for such conduct of contempt of court.
“ Quite apart from the fact that such contumacious conduct would impinge on the integrity of the Party, we would on our part, swiftly take steps to invoke the jurisdiction of the court to nullify any decision, action or step taken at such Convention.
Joined in the suit are the PDP Acting National Chairman, the Chairman, PDP National Convention Committee, the PDP National Organising Secretary, the PDP National Legal Adviser and the PDP National Secretary.
Following the suspension of Secondus, the Deputy National Chairman (South) of the party, Elder Yomi Akinwonmi, in line with the PDP constitution, has been acting in his stead. Akinwonmi presided over the National Executive Committee (NEC) meetings, where crucial decision, including the setting up of the convention committee, were taken. The Nation gathered that the embattled chairman may also ask the court to declare all decisions taken by the Akinwonmi-led NWC as illegal.
The media team of the PDP chairman had earlier revealed that he is under pressure to move agitation the party and stop the convention. According to Ike Abonyi, Special Adviser to Secondus, “Prince Secondus is really under pressure for justice and would seek it anywhere to save the party from hirelings out to destroy and derail the focus of the party. The party leaders are aware of who went to court against it and knows what to do rather than indulging in the mind game. Nothing short of Justice and respect for its servants will save PDP from the hands holding now.
“For the avoidance of doubt the justice Prince Secondus is seeking is as enshrined in the party constitution which is Supreme and states clearly how a National Chairman and any National officer can be sanctioned even where there is a known beach talk less where this none.”
The Nation also gathered that Secondus has received the support of some prominent leaders and chieftains of the troubled party to pursue his case against the party and stall the convention. Checks by The Nation revealed that some party leaders currently aggrieved with the ongoing zoning and micro-zoning arrangements within the PDP may have resorted to backing Secondus in his bid to ensure that the convention does not hold as planned.
“The zoning controversy is also not helping matters. Those who are afraid that they are losing out are now supporting Secondus. They see him as one way of stopping the convention. Among them are very influential party leaders across the country and some national assembly members. Secondus on his own feels it is unfair for the party to keep him in the dark and be planning to elect a replacement for him. He is very optimistic that he has a good case,” a source told The Nation on Friday.
Meanwhile, Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State has confirmed the interest of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State and Aminu Tambuwal, Governor of Sokoto State, in the 2023 PDP presidential ticket. Speaking during a current affairs programme on Channels Television, monitored by our correspondent, Makinde said the three northern PDP chieftains have indicated interest to contest presidency in the next general elections. He described them all as “eminently qualified personalities in PDP that can lead the country successfully.”
“I make bold to say that the situation in this country today, the only way that you can stop PDP at the federal level is by dividing PDP internally. All the governors of the PDP are well aware of this fact and we made unity within ourselves our number one priority. Once the governors of PDP are able to move in one direction, align on most of the issues and the challenges we are faced with, I think there is hope for this country. The issue right now is that PDP has eminently qualified personalities that can lead this country successfully.
“Some have indicated interest, like former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, like Governor Tambuwal, like Governor Bala Mohammed. They have indicated interest. But the bottom line is when we get to that bridge, we will definitely cross it. What is important at this stage, which I will solicit the support of PDP members and the generality of Nigerians, is please support us to have a successful national convention. There is no way you can become anything, president, vice-president, even governor, if we don’t have a party. What we want to do first is ensure that we get things right within our party,” he said.