A Federal High Court, Lagos presided over by Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke today, withdrew from further hearing of the suit involving the two factions of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).in Ogun State.
The suit marked FHC/L/CS/1581/2018, filed by Chief Ajibola Oluyede which has Prince Segun Seriki, Chief Mrs Tuke Omotara, Hon. Nosiru Isiaka Giwa, Chief Remix Bakare,, Apostle Abiodun Sanyaolu, Chief Kola Soriola and Chief Oyede Elijah, as plaintiffs.
While the defendants are: Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus, the PDP National Chairman, Senator Ibrahim Tsauri, National Secretary of the party, Elder Yemi Akinwonmi, Sikirulai Ogundele, Bode Bankole, Waliu Oladipupo and Tunde Alekuwodo.
The plaintiffs in their originating summon is seeking for an order of the court for an injunction that the fifth defendant, elder Akiinwonmi be replaced with Prince Segun Seriki, as the Deputy National Chairman.
The plaintiffs are also asking the court for an order that the national body of PDP should only recognised the Chief Bayo Dayo led faction of the PDP as the authentic executive of the party in Ogun State and to compel the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to recognised only list presented to it by the Bayo Dayo led executive for the offices of National Assembly, Governor as well as House of Assembly as the authentic lists from Ogun State chapter of the party.
But the defendants in their preliminary objection filed by their lawyers who includes, Emeka Etiaba (SAN), Emeka Okpoko (SAN), Edward Ayo-Adegbesan and Kayode Akinsola, urged the court to dismiss the plaintiffs’ suit in its entity for been incompetent and abuse of court processes.
In urging that the suit be dismissed, the defendants said the plaintiffs failed to comply with the Provision contained in Section 60 of their party’s constitution.
However, at the hearing of the matter today, after Justice Aneke had ruled in favour of the plaintiffs to continue hearing the matter, lawyers to the defendants, made an application that the judge recuse himself from hearing the suit, haven ruled on the preliminary objection filed against the suit which has not been moved.
In his response, lawyer to the plaintiffs, Oluyede, urged the judge to discountenance seeking the withdrawal of the judge from the matter as canvassed by the defendants’ lawyers.
Oluyede said: “I can’t sit down here as a senior member of the Bar and see the court been desecrated.
“The politicians are at it again, and they are not worth fight for, we should avoid the politicians using us to fight ourselves in that court.
“I ask the court to discountenance the application particularly by Etiaba (SAN), asking my Lord to recuse himself of this matter. I plead with my Lord not to hold this against any of the parties. I urge the court to proceed with this matter”.
In his ruling, Justice Aneke while withdrawing from the matter ruled: ” I have noticed the defendants’ attitude on this matter since the first day and the attitudes were appalling, the interest of the court is to be even-handed, but since the defendants have shown discomfort about my proceedings with the matter, I hereby recuse myself.
“The case file shall be remitted to the CJ for reassignment”, he ruled.
Prior to the sitting of today, some protesters led by Comrade Segun Okeowo , Ogun State PDP Youth Leader have besieged the court, calling on the Justice Aneke to handoff from matter on the allegation of being bia.
The protesters who armed themselves with placards of different inscription said they don’t have confidence in getting justice before the judge on the matter.
While calling on the court’s Chief Judge to transfer matter to another Judge in a letter captioned: “In the matter of an impending miscarriage of justice, loss of confidence and a request for the reassignment of suit NO: FHC/L/CS/1581/2018, between Prince Segun Seriki & others VS INEC & others his Lordship Justice Aneke J, of Lagos division.
The letter reads in part: “I write on behalf of Ogun State PDP as the undersigned and the representative and/or the Chieftain of the 2nd defendant. Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as well as the 8th Defendant in the above captioned case pending before your learned brother, Hon. Justice N. Aneke of the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court.
“It is pertinent to state here that as the leading opposition party in Nigeria, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has witnessed untold persecution, harassments and wanton intimidation orchestrated by some expelled individuals marauding themselves as members of PDP led by Senator Buruji Kashamu.
“They are often perpetrated by obtaining Court Orders either interlocutory or Ex-parte, most often through the heinous means; abuse of court process a well as proceedings shrouded in secrecy. These handlers in spite of the directives by the Chief Justice of Nigeria on the Judges to be wary of thee antics are still having their ways.
“The latest is the above captioned matter, which the Claimants therein claimed to have caused to be served on the defendants and dubious proof of service was smuggled to the court’s file, but upon our discovery, we deployed our team of lawyers to appear before the trial judge on the 11th October, 2018.
“Surprisingly, in spite of the complaints by our lawyers of non- service of the originating processes, the trial Judge, Justice N. Aneke, heckled down on our lawyers and stampeded them by allowing our lawyers only one working day to file their defence in matter that involved hundreds of pages of pleading and copious exhibits. This attitude of the trial Judge depicts a complete lack of fair hearing, sends wrong signals of partiality and obvious partisanship.
“It will interest your Lordship to learn that Justice Aneke expressed in open court his personal desire to hear the matter on Monday 15th October, 2018, and deliver Judgment within three days thereafter with or without the defence or defendants.
“My Lord it is pertinent to mention that the sponsor/financier of the plaintiff in the above case, Senator Buruji Kashamu (A.K.A Esho Jinadu) called Elder Yemi Akinwonmi, the 5th defendant in the above case, while we were returning from Justice Aneke’s Court (Court 8), Ikoyi in his car to Abeokuta, to confess and boast his acclaimed compromise of the Hon. Justice N Aneke of the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court.
My Lord, its also curious why the matter which touches on the concern parties and res in Ogun State was taken to Lagos division instead of the Ogun State Division. If this strange forum shopping is marched against the belligerent and browbeating attitude of the trial Judge against our lawyers one is left in no doubt that the judge may have had a foreknowledge of the case before actual assignment.
Accordingly, My Lord we do not have confidence in Justice Aneke to deliver a fair judgment if allowed to further hear the matter.
“It is against the backdrop above that we seek the following From your Lordship: Immediate reassignment of the above case/suit to another Judge of the Federal High Court.
“A directive to all the Judges of the Federal High Court that a“ matter connected to Ogun PDP including the instant matter should be transferred back to Ogun State to save the parties and witnesses avoidable inconveniences, travelling risks, costs and expenses.
In conclusion, we count on Your Lordship’s prompt intervention and action to bring the situation under control “.
The petition was signed by Comrade Waliu Oladipupo.