Chuks Okocha in Abuja
The October 30 and 31 national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is now threatened as lawyer to the suspended national chairman of party, Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), has written a letter to the principal officers of the party as well as members of the National Working Committee (NWC) to stop the planned convention as there was a pending appeal against the convention in the Court of Appeal.
In a letter by Oyetibo dated October 21, 2021, addressed to the following officers of the party: 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 C/O Chief E.O Oddey, Odey and Odey Solicitors of above address Suite 120-122 Pan Bank Building No. 2 Forces Avenue, Old GRA Port Harcourt.
Oyetibo said that CA/PH/341/2021: Prince Uche Secondus V Ibeawuchi E. Alex & ORS and the pendency of the application for injunction to restrain the holding of the national convention.
“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/218 3/CS/202I, and wish to bring to your attention the following facts:
“On 23 August 2021 one Mr. lbeawuchi E. Alex and four others jointly instituted Suit No PHC/2183 /CS/202I at the High Court of Rivers State, Port Harcourt Judicial Division against Prince Uche Secondus and the PDP as Defendants.
“On I0 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,” the letter stated.
According to Secondus’s lawyer, “An Order of injunction restraining the Peoples Democratic Party, the 6 Respondent herein, whether by itself, its officers, servants, agents and or representatives from holding or conducting its National Convention scheduled for 30th and 31st October 2021 or any other date, pending the hearing and final determination of this appeal.”
Oyetibo said that alternative to above that “An Order that the parties to this appeal, particularly the Appellant /Applicant and the 6th Respondent (Peoples Democratic Party) shall maintain the status quo ante as at 22 August 2021, when Appellant/Applicant was occupying the office of National Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party, 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 3 I October 2021,” he stated.
According to Oyetiba, “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 (1 986) 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 merit s as they may be ultimately decided.”
He explained in the letter that the same position was taken by the Court of Appeal in Chief Elias Okeke-Oba vs. Ikwuka Okoye (1994) 8 NWLR (364) 605 @ 617- 61 8, 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 rest… The court cannot be hoodwinked by such impropriety of unlawful acts in relation to the rest nor can the person in such disrespect be allowed to take advantage of his default and flagrant intransigence.”
He said that the logical corollary of the foregoing pronouncements of the courts was 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 Secondus, the PDP would be embarking upon a collision course with the court if it proceeds to hold the National Convention before the hearing and determination of the Application.
“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,” Secondus lawyer said.
In view of his letter, Oyetiba said, “We trust that you will wisely advise the Peoples Democratic Party and its officers in this regard. Yours faithfully, Tayo Oyetibo, SAN, FCIArb, FNIALS.”
It was learnt that the suit is billed for judgement on Tuesday next week.