Nigeria: Court Adjourns Sowunmi’s Suit Against PDP

Mr Sowunmi’s lawyer requested the court to adjourn the case against PDP.

The Federal High Court, Abuja, has adjourned until 18 March the suit filed by a top member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Segun Sowunmi, against the party.

Mr Sowunmi’s grouse in the suit is the party’s refusal to convene a National Executive Council (NEC) meeting within constitutionally stipulated period.

Mr Sowunmi is before the court praying for an order compelling the party’s officials to convene a NEC meeting and a restraining order preventing the party and the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) from further delays.

The plaintiff is also asking the court to note that a party must obey its own constitution, saying that a party which disobeys its own constitution ought to be proscribed.

At the resumed hearing of the matter on Monday, counsel for Mr Sowunmi, Anderson Asemota, told the court that all parties in the suit had been duly served.

Mr Asemota also told the court that he had received the counter-affidavit from the defendants challenging the motion filed by the former Governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido, to be joined in the suit.

The lawyer said that he tried to file his response before the hearing but it was not possible.

He prayed the court for a short adjournment to enable him peruse the counter-affidavit and respond appropriately.

Since the defendants did not oppose the application for an adjournment, the judge, Mobolaji Olajuwon, adjourned the matter until 18 March to hear all applications filed in the suit as well as the substantive matter.

Speaking to the News Agency of Nigeria, (NAN), Mr Asemota said that some of the grounds on which the defendants were opposing the motion for joinder were that Mr Lamido was not a necessary party in the suit.

They also claimed that Mr Sowunmi alone was sufficient enough to handle the matter and that moreover, he was not a NEC member.

NAN reports that Mr Sowunmi sued the PDP, its National Chairman and National Secretary, Samuel Anyanwu, and the National Organising Secretary, Umar Bature, seeking an order to compel them to convene a NEC meeting.

Other defendants in the suit are the National Auditor, Okechukwu Daniel, the National Treasurer, Ahmed Yayari, and the National Youth Leader,Muhammed Kadade, and INEC.

He said he had insisted that the meeting be convened for the purpose of providing updates on the activities of the party from the date of the last NEC meeting.

In the suit, the plaintiff is seeking an order of perpetual injunction restraining the 2nd to 8th defendants by themselves or their servants, agents or privies from functioning or continuing to function or discharge the functions of their offices.

He wants the defendant to call for or cause to be called and held, a meeting of the party’s NEC in total fidelity and obeisance of the party’s constitution.

The plaintiff also wants the court to declare that by virtue of the provisions of Article 31(2)(d), 4 and 5 of the PDP constitution (as amended in 2017), he, as the spokesperson of the party during the last election is obligated and/or entitled to file the suit to give effect to the aims and objectives of the PDP and to ensure that the provisions of Article 7 of the PDP constitution are observed and respected by members and national officers.

“A declaration that under and by virtue of the provisions of Article 31 (2)(4) and (5) of the PDP constitution and Section 82(1) of the Electoral Act, 2022, the 1st to 7th defendants are obligated to call or cause to be called and held quarterly or at the request of one-third of members of NEC of the PDP, the meeting of the NEC of the PDP at which the 1st to 7th defendants shall be present quarterly financial reports or income and expenditure of the party to the members of the NEC.

“A declaration that, under and by virtue and the provisions of Article 31 (2)(4) and (5) of the PDP constitution and Section 82(1) of the Electoral Act, 2022, the 1st to 7th defendants are obligated to call for or cause to be called and held quarterly or at the request of the one-third of members of the NEC of the PDP at which the defendants shall present quarterly reports containing the activities of the PDP to the members of the NEC,” other prayers also read.

He also wants the court to declare that the defendants are under obligation to call for PDP NEC meeting to present proposed guidelines and regulations governing the conduct of elections to the party offices at all levels and procedures of selecting party candidates for elective offices to the NEC members.

“A declaration that, having failed, refused and/or neglected to call for meeting and held quarterly or at the request of one-third of members of the NEC of PDP in which the 8th defendant (INEC) ought to have been invited, the 1st to 7th defendants are in the breach and/or violation of the constitution of the party and the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022,” the plaintiff also prays.

In an affidavit filed in support of the suit, the plaintiff maintained that the NEC meeting of the party was last convened by the sacked National Chairman of the party, Iyorchia Ayu, on 8 September 2022.(NAN)