IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE OF PLATEAU STATE OF NIGERIA HOLDEN AT JOS

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE OF PLATEAU STATE OF

NIGERIA

HOLDEN AT JOS

BEFORE HIS LORDSHIP; JUSTICE M. I. SIRAJO… JUDGE

ON FRIDAY THE 23″° DAY OF APRIL. 2010

SUIT No. PLD/J377/09

BETWEEN!

1. PROFESSOR DAKUM SHOWN

2. RAYMOND DABO

3. ANDREW IZA

….PLAINTIFFS

4. NDEYAKUBUDESHI

5. SAIDUMUSA

6. DANIEL DAKIM

(For themselves and on behalf of the Plateau State Executive Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party)

AND

1. PRINCE VINCENT OGBULAFOR

2. DR. BELLO HALIRU MOHAMMED

3. ALHAJIABUBAKARKAWUBARAJE

4. PROFESSOR RUFAIAHMED ALKALI

5. DR.MUSABABAYO

6. CHIEF OLUSOLA OKE

7. MR. W. LLIAM LI. MAKINDE

………..DEFENDANTS

8. ALHAJ1TUKURMANI

9. PRINCE UCHE SECONDUS

10.CHIEF DR. SAMUEL ORTOM

11.HAJTYA MARIAMINNA CIROMA

12. OTUNBA MUYIWA COLLINS

(For themselves and on behalf of the National Working

committee of the Peoples Democratic Party)

13. CHIEF ABU KING SHULUWA

14.AMBASSADOR FIDELIS TAGUN

15.CHIEF SYLVANUS D. LOT

16.BARRISTER HALIMA ALFA

17.PROFESSOR GANYIR LOMBIN

18.ALHAJI ALHASSAN SHUAEBU

19. ALH. JI AD AMU ZAKARI

20.NATIONAL WORKING COMMITTEE OF PEOPLES DEMOCRATIC PARTY

Judgment
21.PEOPLES DEMOCRATIC PARTY

The plaintiffs who are members of the Peoples Democratic Party filed this suit in a representative capacity for themselves and on behalf of the Plateau State Executive Committee of the Party. The 1st – 19th defendants are also members of the People’s Democratic Party. While the 1st – 12th defendants are members of the National Working Committee of the Party, the 13th – 19th Defendants are members of the Caretaker Committee of the Plateau State Chapter of the Party who were appointed and inaugurated following the dissolution of the Plateau State Executive Committee of the Party hitherto constituted by the Plaintiffs.

Following the dissolution of the Plateau State Executive Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party by the 20th defendant, the National Working Committee of the. Party, on 12* August, 2009, the plaintiffs took out an Originating Summons wherein they sought for the determination of ten questions and prayed for 12 reliefs. The Originating Summons was filed on 14* August, 2009 along with a motion exparte and a motion on notice seeking for injunctive reliefs against’ the defendants. The motion exparte was moved and granted on 17th August, 2009. These processes were filed during the Annual vacation when I held forth as the Vacation Judge. I declined to issue the Originating. Summons after making the interim orders of injunction. On the instruction of the Hon. Chief Judge however, I issued the Originating Summons on 21st August, 2009. In the Summons, the Plaintiffs posed the following questions:-

“QUESTIONS FOR DETERMINATION

1. Whether having regard to the combined effect of Sections 221,222 and 223 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 which, among other things guarantee, recognize and prescribe the mode of electing and controlling political parties only on democratic principles or bases, Article 12.72 (e) of the Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party (thereinafter referred to as “PDP”) is not null and void for being inconsistent for empowering the National Executive Committee (hereinafter referred to as “NEC of PDP”) and or the National Working Committee (hereinafter referred to as “NWC of PDP”) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the PDP itself to dissolve a democratically elected Plateau State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Executive?

2. Whether having regard to section 223 (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 and Article 14(1) of the Constitution of PDP which guarantee a right to hold office for a term of four (4) years certain and under which the 1st to (Plaintiffs came into office on the’ 22nd May, 2008 NWC of PDP, the NEC itself can dissolve the Plateau State Executive Committee of the 20th Defendant?

3. Whether members of the Plateau State Executive Committee of the 20th Defendant have each not acquired a vested interest by virtue of their being elected and or sworn and constituted as executive members of the Plateau State PDP?

4 Whether having acquired vested interest as a member of the Plateau State Executive Committee of PDP, the NWC of PDP and or the PDP itself can dissolve the State executive Committee of the PDP without complying with the provisions of section 36 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 and African Charter on Human and people’s Right?

5. Whether the NWC of PDP can rely on the purported result of extensive consultations with stake holders of PDP in Plateau State to dissolve the Plateau State Executive Committee of the PDP without specifically confronting or affording the Plaintiffs individually and collectively the opportunity to react to the views and or allegations if any, embedded in the Party (thereinafter referred to as “PDP”) is not null and void for being inconsistent for empowering the National Executive Committee (hereinafter referred to as “NEC of PDP”) and or the National Working Committee (hereinafter referred to as “NWC of PDP”) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the PDP itself to dissolve a democratically elected Plateau State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Executive? Whether having regard to section 223 (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 and Article 14(1) of the Constitution of PDP which guarantee a right to hold office for a term of four (4) years certain and under which the 1st to 4th Plaintiffs came into office on the 22nd May, 2008 NWC of PDP, the NEC itself can dissolve the Plateau State Executive Committee of the 20th Defendant?

Whether members of the Plateau State Executive Committee of the 20th Defendant have each not acquired a vested interest by virtue of their being elected and or sworn and constituted as executive members of the Plateau State PDP?

Whether having acquired vested interest as a member of the Plateau State Executive Committee of PDP, the NWC of PDP and or the PDP itself can dissolve the State executive Committee of the PDP without complying with the provisions of section 36 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 and African Charter on Human and people’s Right? Whether the NWC of PDP can rely on the purported result of extensive consultations with stake holders of PDP in Plateau State to dissolve the Plateau State Executive Committee of the PDP without specifically confronting or affording the Plaintiffs individually and collectively the opportunity to react to the views and or allegations if any, embedded in the alleged consultation before proceeding to dissolve the Plateau State Executive Committee of PDP?

6. Whether, having regard to Article 12.72(e) of the Constitution of the PDP made pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, the 1st to 12th Defendants acting for themselves and or on behalf of the NWC of PDP can unilaterally dissolve the Plateau State Executive Committee of the PDP headed by the 1st Plaintiff?

7. Whether the 1st to 12th Defendants acting for themselves and or on behalf of the NWC of the PDP are empowered under the Constitution of the PDP to appoint, constitute and/or inaugurate the 13th to 19th Defendants as a Caretaker Committee or by whatever name called, to run the affairs of the PDP in Plateau State?

8. Assuming without conceding that the answer to question 7 is in the affirmative, whether in view of Article 12.63 (b) of the PDP’s Constitution NWC of PDP can exercise the power of dissolution in the absence of an emergency?

9. Assuming without conceding that the answer to question eight (8) is in the affirmative, whether, the 1st to the 12th Defendants, acting for themselves and or on behalf of the NWC of PDP can dissolve the Plateau State Executive of the PDP indefinitely or pending a State Congress to elect a new Executive Committee having regard to Article 12.72(e) of the Constitution of PDP?

10. Whether, having regards to Article 12.63(b) of the PDP’s Constitution, the purported dissolution of the Plateau State Executive Committee of PDP by the 1st to 12th Defendants acting for themselves and or on behalf of the NWC of PDP without more can be of any consequence or effect?”

The twelve (12) reliefs claimed by the Plaintiffs are as follows:-

RELIEFS CLAIMED

  1. DECLARATION that in view of the combined effect of Sections 221, 222 and 223 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 which, among other things guarantee, recognize and prescribe the mode of electing and controlling political parties only on democratic principles or bases, Article 12.72(e) of the Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party (hereinafter referred to as “PDP”) is null and void for being inconsistent for empowering the National Executive Committee (hereinafter referred to as “NEC of PDP” and or the National Working Committee (hereinafter referred to as “NWC of PDP” of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP and the PDP itself to dissolve a democratically elected Plateau State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Executive;
  2. DECLARATION that having regard to Section 223(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 and Article 14(1) of the Constitution of PDP which guarantee a right to hold

office for a term of four (4) years certain and under which the 1st to 6th plaintiffs came into office on the 22nd May, 2008, the NWC of PDP, the NEC itself cannot dissolve the Plateau State Executive Committee of the 20th Defendant;

  1. DECLARATION that members of the Plateau State Executive Committee of the PDP have each acquired a vested interest by virtue of their being elected and or sworn in and or constituted as executive members of the Plateau State PDP.
  2. DECLARATION that having acquired vested interest as a member of the Plateau State Executive Committee of PDP, the NWC of PDP and or the PDP itself cannot dissolve the State executive committee of the PDP without complying with the provisions of section 36 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 and African Charter on Human and People’s Right;
  3. DECLARATION that the NWC of PDP cannot rely on the purported result of extensive consultations with stake holders of PDP in Plateau State to dissolve the Plateau State Executive Committee of. the PDP without specifically confronting or affording the plaintiffs individually and collectively the opportunity to react to the views and or allegations if any, embedded in the alleged consultation before proceeding to dissolve the Plateau State Committee of PDP;
  4. DECLARATION that having regard to Article 12.72 (e) of the Constitution of the PDP made pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, the 1st to 12th Defendants, acting for themselves and or on behalf of the NWC of PDP cannot unilaterally dissolve the Plateau State Executive Committee of the PDP headed by the 1st Plaintiff.
  5. DECLARATION that the 1st to 12tt Defendants acting for themselves and or on behalf of the NWC of the PDP are not empowered under the Constitution of the PDP to appoint, constitute and/or inaugurate the 13th to 19th Defendants as a Caretaker Committee or by whatever name called to run the affairs of the PDP in Plateau State;
  6. DECLARATION that in view of the provisions of Article 12.63 (b) of the PDP’s Constitution, the 1st to 12th Defendants, acting for themselves and or on behalf of the NWC of PDP cannot exercise the power of dissolution in the absence of an emergency.
  7. DECLARATION that the 1st to the 12th Defendants acting for themselves and or on behalf of the NWC of PDP cannot dissolve the Plateau State Executive of the PDP indefinitely or pending an unscheduled State Congress to elect a new Executive Committee having regard to Article 12.72(e) of the Constitution of PDP;
  8. DECLARATION that having regards to Article 12.63(b) of PDP’s Constitution, the purported dissolution of the Plateau State Executive Committee of PDP by the 1st to 12th Defendants acting for themselves and or on behalf of the NWC of PDP or even the PDP without more is of no consequence or effect;
  9. AN ORDER OF INJUNCTION restraining the 13th to 19th Defendants whether by themselves, their agents, privies or assigns, or anybody acting through them under any name from parading themselves or in any way acting as the Caretaker Committee or members thereof of the Plateau State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party;
  10. AN ORDER OF INJUNCTION restraining 1st to 12th and 20th to 21″ Defendants whether by themselves, their agents, privies or allied or anybody acting through them under any guise from in any way implementing or giving effect to the purported resolution of the 1st to 12th and 20th to 21st Defendants made at their meeting held on Wednesday 12th August, 2009 purporting to dissolve the Plateau State Executive Committee of Peoples Democratic Party.”

In support of the Originating Summons, the first Plaintiff deposed to an affidavit of 21 paragraphs annexed to which 3 exhibits are marked “DS1″, “DS2″ and “DS3″.

Exhibit “DS1″ is the minutes of meeting of the Plateau State Executive Committee of the PDP held on 14th July, 2009, while exhibit “DS2″ is a copy of the Press statement dissolving the Plateau State Executive Committee of the PDP dated 12/08/09. Exhibit “DS3″ is the Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party.

The resume of the facts contained in the supporting affidavit is that the 1st plaintiff who is the Plateau State Chairman of the PDP was democratically elected along with the other plaintiffs as members of the State Executive Committee of the Party on 28th February, 2008 and sworn in on 22nd May, 2008 for a period of 4 years by the National Vice Chairman (Northern Zone) in the person of Alhaji Yusuf Ayitogo. Since then the Plaintiffs have been performing their functions as such and also wooing members of the opposition to join the PDP with huge success, citing the decampment of Senator Sati Gogwim and his supporters as example. Exhibit “DS1″ was annexed to show that the State Party Executive was holding regular meetings. The 1st plaintiff has received several invitations to attend the National Executive Committee meetings in his capacity as the Chairman of the Plateau State Chapter of the PDP. Suddenly on 12/8/09 the plaintiffs saw a press statement to the effect that the Plateau State Executive Committee of PDP had been dissolved and a Caretaker Committee constituted in its place. That contrary to the contents of the press statement (exhibit DS2), none of the Plaintiffs was either consulted, accused of any wrong doing or giving a hearing before the dissolution of the Executive Committee and the constitution and subsequent inauguration of the Caretaker Committee.

As required by the Practice Direction, learned counsel for the plaintiffs, Lateef O. Fagbemi, SAN, filed alongside the Originating Summons an affidavit in support and a written address containing his legal arguments and submissions in support of the Originating Summons. He treated the questions for determination seriatim.

Upon being served with the processes filed by the plaintiffs, the defendants responded as follows:-

The 1st – 12th , 20th and 21st defendants filed a motion on notice seeking for an order striking out the suit for want of jurisdiction, or in the alternative, an order staying further proceedings in this suit until the internal machinery for the settlement of dispute as provided by the party’s Constitution is exhausted by the parties. The motion is dated 26/10/09 but filed on 29/10/09. These set of defendants predicated their objection on the following grounds:-

A. The subject matter of this suit which deals with the dissolution of the State Executive of the Peoples Democratic Party is an internal affair of the Party, which the Court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain same.

B. The plaintiffs did not exhaust the internal mechanism for resolution of dispute between parties as provided by the Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party before commencement of this action.

C. The institution of this action is an abuse of process of Court as the Plaintiffs instituted an action before the Federal High Court, Jos Judicial Division, on the same subject matter.

The affidavit in support of this motion is of 17 paragraphs and was sworn to by Chief (Hon.) Olusola Oke, the National Legal Adviser of the Peoples Democratic Party. Counsel written address was also filed along with the application.

The 1st – 12th, 20th and 21st defendants also filed a counter-affidavit against the Originating Summons deposed to by Uluba Mai Jawur, a Legal Practitioner in the Law Firm of J. K. Gadzama and Partners on 4/11/09. It was accompanied by a written address.

The 13th – 19th defendants on the other hand filed a Notice of preliminary objection dated 26/10/09 with a written address. The objection was predicated on four grounds, namely;

(i) The Plaintiffs suit is incompetent as it is not justiciable, being matter which arose from an infra-party disagreement or dispute.

(ii) The plaintiffs lack the requisite locus stand! to maintain this suit which centres on the violation of the Constitution of the 1st defendant.

(iii) The Plaintiffs’ suit is premature and/or incompetent in that the plaintiffs did not exhaust the internal mechanism enshrined in the Constitution of the 21st defendant before having recourse to this Honourable Court.

(iv) This Honourable Court kicks the jurisdictional competence to entertain this suit.

The 13d1 -19th defendants also filed a counter-affidavit in opposition to the Originating Summons sworn to by Chief Abu King Shuluwa on 5/11/09 as well as a written address.

Responding to the two sets of preliminary objection, the plaintiffs filed two counter affidavits to the motion of the 1st – 12th, 20* and 21st defendants, one sworn to by Prof. Dakum Shown and the other by Omosanya Popoola, a lawyer in the Law Finn of Lateef O. Fagbemi SAN & Co. together with two written addresses. With respect to the Notice of preliminary objection filed by the 13th – 19* Defendants, the plaintiffs through their counsel, Lateef O. Fagbemi, SAN, filed a written address in opposition thereto.

With respect to the Originating Summons and in addition to the main affidavit in support, the plaintiffs also filed a further affidavit in support deposed to by Professor Dakum Shown and a further written address in response to the counter-affidavits of Uluba Mai Jawur and Chief Abu King Shuluwa. The further affidavit is of 30 paragraphs and was sworn to on 8/01/2010. The plaintiffs also filed an affidavit of service sworn to by Omosanya Popoola on 08/01/2010. While the further affidavit has annexed to it 17 exhibits marked AA – RR, the affidavit of service has one exhibit marked “A

In direct opposition to the further affidavit and further written address in support of the Originating Summons, the 13th – 19th defendants filed a further and better counter-affidavit sworn to by Bitrus Fwangshak, a Legal Practitioner in the Law Finn of G. S. Pwul and Partners, on 26/03/10. Also filed in support of the further and better counter affidavit is a written address. The 1st 12th , 20th and 21st defendants did not respond to the further affidavit and further written address in support of the Originating Summons. Similarly, all the defendants did not respond to the affidavit of service deposed to by Omosanya Popoola.

As it is the regular practice in a suit of this nature, the preliminary objections and the originating summons were consolidated and taken together. As agreed by learned counsel for the parties, the two sets of defendants moved their respective preliminary objections first by adopting all the processes filed in support thereof, while learned counsel for the plaintiffs replied by adopting all the processes filed by the plaintiffs in opposition thereto. After this procedure in open Court, learned senior counsel for the Plaintiffs L. O. Fagbemi, SAN, adopted all the written addresses filed in support of the Originating Summons and urged the Court to grant all the reliefs claimed by the plaintiffs. R. O. Yusuf Esq. on behalf of the 1st – 12th , 20th and 21st defendants urged the Court to dismiss the claim of the plaintiffs after adopting the written address filed by him in support of the counter affidavit of Uluba Mai-Jawur which he fully relied on. On behalf of the 13th – 19th defendants, G. S. Pwul Esq.; placed reliance on the counter affidavit of Chief Abu King Shuluwa and the further and better counter affidavit of Bitrus Fwangshak. He also adopted the two written addresses filed alongside the two counter affidavits in urging the Court to dismiss the claim of the plaintiffs in its entirety.

Initially when this suit was filed on 14/08/09, it was filed along with two motions, one exparte and the other on notice, all seeking for injunctive reliefs. The exparte application was heard and granted. The motion on notice was never heard till date. No counter affidavit was filed by the defendants in opposition to the motion just as no effort was made by the plaintiffs to move the motion. In the circumstance, the motion for interlocutory injunction is deemed abandoned and is hereby struck out. Similarly, in the course of this proceedings the plaintiffs initiated contempt proceedings against the defendants by serving on them Form 48 – Notice of consequences of disobedience to Order of Court. Soon after it was served, learned counsel for the 13th -19th defendants filed a motion seeking the setting aside of the Notice in Form 48. The Plaintiffs responded by filing a counter affidavit. The contempt proceedings was aborted midway and remained inconclusive. The motion to set aside the Form 48 filed by the 13th – 19th defendants was also not moved. No effort was made by these defendants to move the motion and no reference was made by any of the parties during the adoption of addresses to the contempt proceedings as well as the motion to set aside Form 48. In this circumstance, I hold that the contempt proceedings is deemed abandoned and same is hereby struck out. With respect to the motion to set aside Form 48, the motion having been abandoned after issues are joined, is hereby dismissed. In the same vein, the motion on notice filed by the 13th – 19th defendants on 26/10/09 seeking to set aside the interim order of injunction granted on 14/08/09 is deemed abandoned and liable to be struck out, reason being that the applicants in that motion made no allusion to it during the adoption of written address in open Court. That motion is accordingly struck out.

Since the competence of this suit, a fortiori, the jurisdiction of this Court to entertain same are brought into the front burner, it is my duty first to determine the issues bordering on the competence of the action and the jurisdiction of the Court before proceeding, where necessary, to the determination of the merits of the action. This I must do because jurisdiction being a threshold issue, should be decided upon first before other things as it forms the very foundation of adjudication. If a Court lacks jurisdiction, it lacks the necessary competence to try a case and a defect in competence is fatal as proceedings conducted under such defect in competence are null and void ab initio, however well conducted they may otherwise be. See –

MADUKOLU VS. NKEMDILIM

(1962) SCNLR 341.

UCHEGBU VS. S.P.D.C (NIG.) LTD (2010) 2 NWLR (Pt 1178) 285 at

309.

I will now consider the objections filed by the defendants. 1. Motion of the l” – 12th. 20th and 21* defendants.

In a motion dated 28/10/09 but filed on 29/10/09, this set of defendants challenged the competence of the suit and the jurisdiction of the Court to adjudicate. I have already reproduced the grounds of the objection to which reference would be made in due course, where necessary. In the affidavit in support of that motion, the deponent, Chief Olusola Oke, who is the National Legal Adviser of the 21st defendant, deposed in paragraphs 3 – 14 as follows:-

  1. That there is a serious crisis within the State Executive Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party Plateau State, which threatened its very existence.
  2. That the 21st Defendant has in its Constitution various mechanisms for resolving its domestic or internal problems. A photocopy of the said Constitution is hereby attached and marked as Exhibit “A”.
  3. That the National Working Committee of the 1st Defendant is charged with, among other duties, ensuring a hitch-free and day-to-day running of the 21st Defendant’s affairs, whether at the Federal, State or Local Government levels.
  4. That pursuant to the resolution of the said crisis referred to in paragraph 3 above and having employed the use of dialogue but to no avail, the National Working Committee of the 21st Defendant by the powers vested in it by its Constitution on August 12,2009, through a press conference, announced the dissolution of the State Executive Committee
  5. .That the said dissolution of the State Executive Committee was necessary so as to ensure the survival of the 21st Defendant in Plateau State.
  6. That the said dissolution of the State Executive Committee was necessary so as to ensure the survival of the 21st Defendant in Plateau State.
  7. That counting three (3) months from the date of the dissolution will give 12th November, 2009 as its expiry date.
  8. That the Caretaker Committee inaugurated by the National Working Committee of the 21st Defendant is neither there on a permanent basis nor is the dissolution of the State Executive Committee final.
  9. That the Plaintiffs/Respondents did not make any attempt to resolve the dispute using the internal mechanism for resolution of disputes as provided by the Peoples Democratic Party’s Constitution.
  10. That the Constitution of the 21st Defendant (the Peoples Democratic Party) provides for a problem solving mechanism which extends all the way to its Board of Trustees which will have the final say on the matter.
  11. That the Plaintiffs/Respondents were rather hasty and did not exhaust the internal mechanism for resolution of the dispute as provided by the Peoples Democratic Party’s Constitution before the commencement of this action.
  12. That the crisis is a domestic or internal affair of the 21″ Defendant and will be settled accordingly.”

This motion was filed by Chief Joe Kyari Gadzama, SAN. In the written address in support, filed along with the motion and affidavit, the learned Senior Advocate formulated four issues for determination, viz:-

1. Does this Honourable Court have the competence and jurisdiction to hear this matter as presently constituted?

2. If this Honourable Court lacks jurisdiction, what becomes of the suit?

3. Are there remedies available in the 21st defendant/Applicant’s Constitution which aggrieved members can resort to?

4. Can the plaintiffs/respondents competently and lawfully maintain this suit without first exploring and exhausting the remedies provided in the 21st defendant’s/Applicant Constitution?

After a two and half page abstract treatise on the question of jurisdiction, learned Senior counsel submitted on the first issue that the dispute in this suit is an intra party matter, an internal affairs of the Peoples Democratic Party and as such this Court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain same. He cited and relied on the case of JANG VS. INEC (2004) 12 NWLR (Pt. 886) 46 at 53, where the Court held that an intra party matter is within the Party’s internal affairs exclusively outside the province of the Court He contended that as a general rule Courts do not interfere in intra party matters and have declined jurisdiction severally. He urged the Court to hold that the plaintiffs have by their actions robbed the Court of jurisdiction.

On the second issue for determination, learned SAN submitted that from the facts set out in the affidavit in support of the motion on notice it is not in doubt that the issues raised in this suit relates to dissolution of the Plateau State Executive Committee of the 21st defendant, which is clearly an issue within the sphere of domestic affairs of a political party, which are not justiciable. On this submission learned counsel placed reliance on the authorities of-

EHINLANWO VS. OKE (2008) 16 NWLR (Pt. 1113) 367 at 402 403

ONUOHA VS. OKAFOR (1983)2SCNLR244

DALHATU VS. TURAKI (2003) 15 NWLR (Pt. 843) 310 at 334 – 335.

He urged the Court, in the circumstance, to strike out the suit for want of jurisdiction to entertain same.

Presenting argument on the 3rd issue, Chief Gadzama, SAN, submitted that following the dissolution of the Plateau State Executive Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party by the National Working Committee of the Party on 12th August, 2009, the Plaintiffs hastily went to Court instead of making use of the available problem solving mechanisms of the 21st defendant. He submitted that the disciplinary procedure of the 21st defendant has not been fully exhausted by the Plaintiffs before their resort to the Court. He concluded mat it is proper that these avenues are explored before involving the Courts.

Chief Gadzama, SAN, submitted on the fourth issue that where in a body of rules governing the domestic or internal affairs of an Institution or Organisation, provisions are made and steps are prescribed for redressing grievances internally, any step taken in Court without exploring and exhausting the remedies provided or steps prescribed in the regulation renders the suit premature and therefore incompetent. He cited in support of this submission the authority of-

AKINTEMI VS. ONWUMECHlLI (1985) NWLR

(pt 1)68.

He argued that the failure of the plaintiffs, who are challenging the dissolution of the Plateau State Executive Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party, to comply with the provisions of Articles 21.2(1), 21.2(ii) and 21.13 of the Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party, renders this suit premature and therefore incompetent and liable to be struck out. That the submission of the present dispute to the National Executive Committee of the Party for adjudication is a condition precedent to the institution of this action by the Plaintiffs and that the plaintiffs failure to abide by this condition robs the Court of jurisdiction to entertain this matter. Learned senior counsel cited in support of this argument, the case of-

NNAIYE VS. ANYICHIE (2005) 2 NWLR (Pt 910) 623 at 649 – 650.

He submitted that the provisions of the Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party did not foreclose the plaintiffs access to Court but that before the right of access to Court is exercised by the plaintiffs they must exhaust the dispute resolution mechanisms enshrined in that Constitution. The cases of-

ABDULKADIR VS. MAMMAN (2003) 14 NWLR (PT. 839) 1 AT 32 and

BALONWU VS. CHINYELU (1991) 4 NWLR (PT. 183) 30 AT 39,

where cited and relied upon in support of this proposition of the law.

Learned Senior Advocate urged the Court to decline jurisdiction and strike out this suit as it is premature and incompetent.

la. opposition to this application, the plaintiffs filed two counter affidavits respectively sworn to by Professor Dakum Shown and Omosanya Popoola. In the first counter-affidavit, Professor Dakum Shown deposed inter alia;

  1. That I have seen and read the motion dated 28th day of October, 2009 filed by the 1st to 12th and 20th to 21st Defendants (inclusive) and the affidavit in support of same.
  2. That contrary to paragraphs 7, 8, 9 and 10 of the Applicant’s supporting affidavit aforesaid, the dissolution of Plateau State executive committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was effected to terminate the tenure of the plaintiffs completely and replace them with the stogies of the 1st defendant to create divisions within the members of the 21″ Respondent/Applicant in Plateau State.
  3. That paragraphs 12, 13, and 14 of the Applicant’s supporting affidavit aforesaid are most untrue as the Applicant’s alleged dispute are self induced and an imagination.
  4. That after the service of the Originating Summons and the interim order of injunction of this Honourable Court on the Respondents, Awokore Knyebo Esq., filed memorandum of Appearance for the l” to 12th and 20th to 21st Defendants while Chief Olusola Oke filed memorandum of appearance to personally appear for himself.
  5. The plaintiffs did not institute any suit at the Federal High Court, Jos or at any other Court on the same subject matter herein.
  6. The memorandum of appearance filed by Chief Olusola Oke was struck out on 13th October, 2009.
  7. That I was informed by the learned senior counsel to the plaintiffs in this matter, Lateef O. Fagbemi, SAN, at his.chambers on the 30th October, 2009 and I verily believe him that what calls for determination in this case is the interpretation of the Peoples Democratic Party’s Constitution vis-a-vis the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
  8. That I know as a fact that the Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party was made pursuant to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 and it is subject to that 1999 Constitution via Article 2 of Peoples Democratic Party Constitution.
  9. That the decision being questioned herein as illegal was taken by the National working committee of the Peoples Democratic Party.
  10. That the composition of the National Working Committee include the 1st to 12th Defendants.
  11. That the composition of the National Executive Committee of the 21″ Defendant also consists of the l” to 12th Defendants in this case.
  12. That contrary to the affidavit in support of the Defendants’ Application, by the provision of the Article 12.73 of the People Democratic Party (PDP) Constitution, the decision of the National Executive Committee is final and binding on all organs and member of the party, including its Board of Trustees.
  13. That members of the National Executive Committee and National Working Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party are virtually the same.
  14. That the National Board of Trustee of the Peoples Democratic Party has no right to entertain any appeal from the decisions of the National Executive Committee of the Party.
  15. That it will be in the interest of justice to refuse the applicants’ application.”

Similarly, Omosanya Popoola deposed in the second counter-affidavit as follows:

l.That l am a legal Practitioner in the law firm of Lateef O. Fagbemi & Company, legal practitioners and also one of the counsel assisting Lateef O. Fagbemi, SAN, lead counsel to the plaintiffs in the preparation and prosecution of this matter.

5. That I know as a fact that the plaintiffs filed this present action against the defendants on the 14th August, 2009 via originating summons No. PLD/J377/09 to determine the constitutionality of the defendants’ action being complained against.

16.That the composition of the National Executive Committee of the 21M Defendant also consists of the l” to 12th Defendants in this case.

»

17. That contrary to the affidavit in support of the Defendants’ Application, by the provision of the Article 12.73 of the People Democratic Party (PDF) Constitution, the decision of the National Executive Committee is final and binding on all organs and member of the party, including its Board of Ti ustees.

18.That members of the National Executive Committee and National Working Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party are virtually the same.

19.That the National Board of Trustee of the Peoples Democratic Party has no right to entertain any appeal from the decisions of the National Executive Committee of the Party.

20.That it will be in the interest of justice to refuse the applicants’ application.”

Similarly, Omosanya Popoola deposed in the second counter-affidavit as follows:

1.That 1 am a legal Practitioner in the law firm of Lateef O. Fagbemi & Company, legal practitioners and also one of the counsel assisting Lateef O. Fagbemi, SAN, lead counsel to the plaintiffs in the preparation and prosecution of this matter.

5. That I know as a fact that the plaintiffs filed this present action against the defendants on the 14th August, 2009 via originating summons No. PLD/J377/09 to determine the constitutionality of the defendants’ action being complained against.

6. That I know as a fact that the plaintiffs also filed both motion exparte and motion on notice No. PLD/J377/M1/09 for an injunction to restrain the defendants from taking any further positive step, which included the swearing in of a caretaker committee, which defendants, by her press statement of 12/08/09 had slated for 18/08/09.

7. That at 9.25a.m on the 17th August, 2009, I personally served plaintiffs’ solicitor’s letter dated 14th August, 2009 and addressed to the National Legal Adviser of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) together with stamped copies of all the relevant court processes mentioned earlier on the Peoples Democratic Party National Legal Adviser Chief Olusola Oke.

8. That upon the receipt of the said letter and all the Court processes attached therewith by Chief Olusola Oke, he, Chief Olusola Oke in my presence, instructed one of his Clerical Assistant in his office by name Ndam Nanchang, to endorse and acknowledge the receipt of same on his behalf. Attached hereto and marked Exhibit “A” is a copy of the acknowledgement of service.

9. That the essence of plaintiffs’ solicitor’s letter dated 14* August, 2009 vas to bring to the attention of the defendants the pendency of this suit as well as to compel parties to stay action pending the determination of the application and substantive suit by this honourable Court.

10.That rather than tow the path of honour and refrain from taking any step capable of compromising or. overreaching the complaints of the plaintiffs before this honourable Court, defendants purport to swear in a Caretaker Committee on Monday, 17th August, 2009 after been served with the plaintiffs’ solicitor’s letter together with copies of all the filed court processes, having been aware of the pendency of this suit.

11.That I know as a fact that the step taking by the defendants on Monday 17th August, 2009 after the institution of plaintiffs’ suit was calculated to overreach both the plaintiffs and this Honourable Court, because by defendants own press statement dated 12th August, 2009 the swearing in ceremony of the Caretaker Committee was to take place on Tuesday 18th August, 2009 and not Monday, 17th August, 2009.

12.That defendants intend to foist a fait accompli on the plaintiffs and this honourable Court.

13.That the conduct of the Defendants in this matter is reprehensible.

14.That the plaintiffs will be greatly prejudiced if this application is granted.

15. That Defendants’ present application is brought malafide.”

Learned senior counsel for the Plaintiffs, Prince Lateef Fagbemi SAN, submitted issues for determination in this motion are as follows:-

1. Whether the subject matter of this suit constitutes internal affairs of Peoples Democratic Party and thereby divests this Honourable Court of its jurisdiction to entertain same?

2. Whether the plaintiffs/respondents can lawfully, maintain this suit without exploring and exhausting the remedies provided in the 1st defendant/applicant’s Constitution?

3. Whether the institution of this action is an abuse of process of this Court, Nigeria, 1999. He further submitted that to the extent that the manifesto and Constitution of a Political Party necessarily have a root in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the rights of the party members will always be in issue requiring the resolution of the Court, and in that situation the Court will not be deprived of its jurisdiction by virtue of the provisions of section 6(6} of the Constitution. The Court was referred to -

A. G. FEDERATION VS. ABUBAKAR

(2007) 10 NWLR (Pt 1041)1 at 101.

Learned senior counsel submitted that all the cases cited by the applicants, which are not apposite to the instant case and which are decisions of the Court of appeal, cannot override the recent Supreme Court decisions cited by him above. He particularly drew a parallel between this case and that of Ehinlawo vs. Chief Olusola Oke (supra) which deals with whether a Court could force a Political Party to sponsor a candidate in an election to the Senate. He argued that having acquired a proprietary interest or personal right by their election as members of the Plateau State Executive Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party for a fixed tenure of 4 years, the plaintiffs are entitled to go to Court to prevent the

infringement of that right or proprietary interest. On this submission, he referred the Court to -

ONUOHA VS. OKAFOR

(1983) NSCC 494 at 511.

DALHATU VS. TURAKI

(2003) 15 NWLR (Pt. 843) 31.0 at 335.

On the second issue formulated by him, Prince Fagbemi, SAN, submitted that the failure of the 1st to 12*, 20th and 21st defendants to show conclusively that the plaintiffs have breached any of the provisions of the Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party is fatal to their objection. Quite apart from this, learned senior counsel submitted, the issue here deal more with the legality or otherwise of the Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party vis-a-vis the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999. Being a matter of interpretation of the two Constitutions, learned SAN submitted that the jurisdiction of the Court cannot be ousted by any internal rules as it is the Court that is well suited for this purpose. He submitted further that the provisions of Article 12.72 of the Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party will not divest this Court of jurisdiction to entertain this suit being a case which seeks the interpretation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria vis-a-vis the Constitution of Peoples Democratic Party. He submitted that the complaints of the plaintiffs in the Originating Summons concerns the breach by the applicants herein of their civil rights, and that where the civil right of a party is breached, the Court will ignore-the failure to explore and exhaust the remedies over the matter. For this position of the law the Court was referred to the case of—

AKNTEMI VS. ONWUMECHILI (supra)

Learned senior counsel contended that in this case the personal right of each of the plaintiffs to fair hearing before their respective vested rights were taken away from them is in issue in the originating summons. He submitted that the case of Balonwu Vs. Chinyelu (supra) and Nnonye Vs. Anyichie (supra) are not relevant to this suit. It is the further submission of Prince Fagbemi that since the composition of the National Working Committee and the National Executive Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party are virtually the same, with the applicants herein directing the affairs of both Committees as members of-both Committees, the law will not expect the plaintiffs to file their complaint before the defendants and expect to have a fair decision in view of the latin maxim “Nemo judex in causa sua”. He urged the Court to discountenance the submissions of the defendants/applicants and assume jurisdiction.

The third issue deals with abuse of Court process. It is the submission of senior counsel for the plaintiffs/respondents that the failure of the defendants/applicants to produce evidence of the suit filed by the plaintiffs against the defendants at the Federal High Court and the failure of counsel on their behalf to proffer argument on that ground of objection amounted to abandonment of that ground. He urged the Court to strike out the objection on that ground.

With reference to the counter-affidavit of Omosanya Popoola, learned SAN submitted that the defendants were at all material time aware of the pendency of this suit and the applications for interim and interlocutory injunction before purporting to swear in the Caretaker Committee on 17/08/09. He contended that it

was the intention of the defendants to pre-empt the decision of this court and render the Court impotent in the matter. He submitted that the defendants should not be allowed to get away with their reprehensible conduct. He urged the Court to set aside whatever steps the defendants took after the institution of this action for constituting a breach of the doctrine of lis pendens. The Court was referred to

ADEFARATI VS. GOVERNOR, ONDO STATE

(2005) 48 W.R.N. 109

GOVERNOR OF LAGOS STATE VS. OJUKWU (1986) 1 NWLR (Pt. 18) 621 at 636

He urged the Court to dismiss the application with cost.

Having reviewed the arguments and submissions of counsel for and against this motion, what ought to follow are findings and decision on the findings. However, there is a preliminary objection by the 13th – 19th defendants and in order not to shut out this set of defendants in the event of the success of the application of the 1st _ 12th, 20th and 21st defendants which will lead to the striking out of the suit in limine, I will not decide the motion of the 1st -12th, 20th and 21st defendants at this point. Instead, I will review the facts and arguments for and against the preliminary objection of the 13th – 19th defendants before deciding on the two sets of objections by the two sets of defendants. This is more so as the two objections are predicated substantially on the same grounds.

2. Preliminary objection of the 13th – 19th Defendants

Messrs G.S. Pwul and Solomon Umoh, learned counsel for the 13th – 19th

defendants predicated their preliminary objections on four grounds which I have reproduced at the beginning of this judgment.

On the first and fourth issues which borders on the justiciability of the .suit and jurisdictional competence of the Court, learned counsel for the 13th – 19th defendants submitted that from the reliefs sought for in the Originating Summons and the depositions in the supporting affidavit, it is glaring that the complaints of the plaintiffs relates to the dissolution of the Executive Committee of the PDP in Plateau State which complaint can be resolved under the Party’s Constitution which the plaintiffs subscribed to. That the Party’s Constitution which is the Supreme Law binding on the members has made provisions for internal dispute resolution mechanism among its members. They submitted that it is in furtherance of the Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party that the 20th defendant, the National Working Committee of the PDP, intervened to save the chaotic situation in Plateau State which was precipitated by internal wrangling among the members, from deteriorating. Learned counsel contended that the action of the National Working Committee is backed by the provisions of Article 12.63(b) of the Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party. They submitted that the action of the 20th defendant in the circumstances is commendable rather than condemnable. The Court was referred to the case of-

ONUOHA VS. OKAFOR

(1983) NSCC 494 at497.

It was the further submission of learned counsel that to restrain the 1st – 12th defendants from due exercise of their powers under the Constitution of the PDP will not only be tantamount to a gross violation of the same Constitution but will ran contrary to the principle in Onuoha Vs. Okafor (supra). They submitted on the authorities of-

ABDULKADIR VS. MAMMAN (2003) 13 NWLR (Ft 839) 1 at 31 – 32.

DALHATU VS. TURAKI (2003) 15 NWLR (Pt. 843) 310 at 335

30

that where a matter is substantially an intra party dispute within an internal affair of a registered Political Party, as in the present case, a Court of law has ho jurisdiction to entertain same. The Court was urged to uphold these grounds of objection and decline jurisdiction to entertain the action.

On the second ground of objection dealing with locus standi, Messrs Pwul and Umoh submitted that from the affidavit in support of the originating summons, it cannot be said that the plaintiffs’ rights, obligations or interests have been violated such as to vest them with locus standi to maintain this suit. They submitted that since the plaintiffs’ complaint is against the violation of the Constitution of the Peoples’ Democratic Party without claiming any further interest, the plaintiffs have no pecuniary interest hi the matter and therefore lacks the standing to sue. This submission was made after a relatively long essay on the meaning of the term “Locus standi.”

-It was the further argument of the learned lawyers for the 13th – 19th defendants that from the sort of complaint raised in this suit, the plaintiffs are not the competent persons to file this suit. They argued that in line with the rule-in FOSS VS. HARBOTTLE (1843) 2 Hare 461, only the 1st defendant being a registered political party that has the competence to raise such complaint as in the present case, whenever it feels aggrieved. This, they argued, is because an action hi respect of a wrong alleged to have been done to a Company or Association of persons can only be brought by the Company or Association itself and no other. They referred the Court to the case of-

EJTKEME VS. AMAECHI

(1998) 3 NWLR (Pt 542) 456 at 470

where the rule in FOSS Vs. HARBOTTLE was ably applied. The Court, was urged to hold that only the Peoples Democratic Party, being a registered Political Party is entitled to bring the suit as it deems fit, and that since the lack of locus standi of the Plaintiffs goes to the root of the jurisdiction of the Court, the Court was urged to uphold this ground of objection, decline jurisdiction and strike out the suit on the authorities of-

ADEF ANYA VS. THE PRESIDENT, FED. REP. OF NIGERIA

(1987) 2 NCLR 236, (1981) 5 SC112.

OJUKWU VS. OJUKWU

(2008) 18 NWLR (Pt 1119) 439 at 457

SODIPO VS. OGIDAN

(2008) 4 NWLR (Pt 1077) 342 at 373.

It was submitted for the 13th – 19th defendants with respect to ground three of the objection that assuming but not concdeding that this suit is justiciable and the plaintiffs have locus standi to bring same, this Court still lack the jurisdiction to entertain same as the suit is premature due to the failure of the plaintiffs to exhaust the internal dispute resolution mechanism enshrined in the Constitution of the 21st defendant before having recourse to this Court. Learned counsel referred the Court to the provisions of Article 21 of the Constitution of the PDP dealing with discipline and remedies available to an aggrieved member of the Party and submitted that by the nature of those provisions, whenever there is any dispute within the 21st defendant, such dispute ought to be resolved within the Party. That it is only when the internal dispute resolution mechanism had been unsuccessfully exhausted that an aggrieved party shall be at liberty to resort to the Law Court. In support of this submission, learned counsel cited and relied on the case of—

AKINTEMI VS. ONWUMECHlLI (SUPRA) at 85 – 86

OBALOJA VS. ETIKAN (1998) 6 NWLR (Pt. 553) 320.

It was further submitted for the 13th – 19th defendants that by their conduct of resorting to this. Court in breach of the 21st defendants Constitution which requires then to first submit their grievance to the party for internal resolution, the plaintiffs must be made to bear the consequences of that breach. They urged the Court to decline further entertainment of this suit and refer parties back to the 21st defendant for possible internal settlement of their grievances.

Responding to this preliminary objection, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN formulated on behalf of the plaintiffs three issues for determination.

1. Whether the subject matter of this suit constitutes internal affairs of Peoples Democratic Party and thereby divests this Court of its jurisdiction to entertain same?

2. Whether the plaintiffs have locus stand! to bring this suit?

3. Whether the Plaintiffs/Respondents can lawfully maintained this suit without exploring and exhausting the remedies provided in the 21st defendants’ Constitution?

The first issue formulated by Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN and the argument proffered by him in opposition to the objection of the 1st – 12 , 20 and 21 defendants which was by way of motion on notice are not only substantially but exactly the same with the first issue and argument proffered on the first issue in the instant preliminary objection, i.e., the preliminary objection of the 13 -19 defendants. In order to save time and space, I hereby adopt my review of the argument of Prince Fagbemi, SAN, under issue 1 in opposition to the motion of the 1st – 12th , 20 and 21st defendants, as my review of his argument on issue No. 1 formulated by him in the instant preliminary objection, as the arguments . are exactly the same. Having done that, I will now proceed to the second issue as formulated by him, which is on the locus standi of the plaintiffs to maintain this action. Prince Fagbemi, SAN, submitted that by this ground of objection, the 13th – 19th defendants have admitted all the averments (deposition?) in the affidavit in support of the Originating Summons. He submitted that in determining the locus standi of the plaintiffs, the only material the court is enjoined to consider is the Originating Summons arid the affidavit in support thereof which learned senior counsel contended are uncontrovered and deemed admitted by the defendants. He submitted that from the affidavit in support of the originating Summons-one would not be left in doubt as to the interest of the plaintiffs and that as elected officers of the party, the plaintiffs have acquired a vested right to remain in office for a period of four (4) years certain and a denial of such right without fair hearing is actionable. Learned senior counsel submitted that the personal interest disclosed by the plaintiffs is not only the denial of their right to fair hearing as elected Party officers but also a denial of their personal/proprietary right or interest as elected party officers for a term of office certain. After referring to the factors or guidelines for determining locus standi, learned senior counsel for the plaintiffs urged the Court not to give an unduly restrictive interpretation to the expression “Locus stand!” having regard to the peculiar facts and circumstances of this case. He cited the following authorities in support of his submissions.

A. G. FEDERATION VS. A. G. ABIA STATE & 36 ORS

(2001) 40 WRN1 at 63.

FAWEHINMI VS. AKELU

(1987) 4 NWLR (PT. 69) 797

A. G. KADUNA STATE VS. HASSAN

(1985) 2 NWLR (PT. 8) 483.

A. G. BENDEL VS. A. G. FEDERATION (1981) 10 SC 1 at 158.

The 3rd issue for consideration as formulated on behalf of the plaintiffs/respondents to the preliminary objection is couched in the same words as the second issue for consideration as formulated by the Plaintiffs’ counsel in opposition to the motion of the 1st – 12th, 20th and 21st defendants. The argument of learned senior counsel in opposition to the applications are also similar, the only difference being in the arrangement of the issues. Having already reviewed the argument and submissions on issue two in the motion of the 1st – 12th. 20th and 21st defendants, I hereby adopt the same review as the submissions of Prince Fagbemi, SAN, on issue three in the instant preliminary objection as it will amount to sheer waste of precious time and energy to repeat the review of the same submissions that had been reviewed earlier on. In conclusion, the Court was urged to dismiss the Preliminary objection with cost.

With this, the curtain is drawn on the arguments for and against the two preliminary objections by the two sets of defendants.

In my considered view there are two issues that call for determination in the two preliminary objections. For purposes of refreshing our memories, the preliminary objection filed by the 1st – 12th, 20th and 21st defendants is by way of motion on notice while that of the 13* – 19th defendants is by way of Notice of preliminary objection. Since the two objections raised substantially the same issues on the competence of the suit vis-a-vis the jurisdiction of the Court, it is my desire to approach the two objections hi a consolidated manner. From the affidavits and arguments of learned counsel for and against the objections, this Court is of the opinion that the two objections can be resolved in toto through the resolution of the following issues/questions.

1. Whether the plaintiffs have locus standi to institute this action.

2. Whether the subject matter of this suit constitutes internal affairs of the Peoples Democratic Party as to rob the Court of jurisdiction to entertain same.

3. Whether the Plaintiffs can maintain this suit without first exhausting the dispute resolution mechanism enshrined in the Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party.

4. Whether this action constitute an abuse of Court process.

ISSUE No. 1

It was the contention of learned counsel for the 13th – 19th defendants that since the plaintiffs complaint is against the violation of the Constitution of the PDP without more, the plaintiffs have no pecuniary interest in the matter and therefore lacks the locus standi to sue. Learned counsel also argued that from the nature of the plaintiffs complaint, the plaintiffs are not the proper persons to file this suit. That in line with the rule in Foss Vs. Harbottle, only the 21st defendant being a registered Political party can raise such a complaint whenever it feels aggrieved. Learned senior counsel for the plaintiff countered this argument by submitting that a look at paragraphs 1-8 and 13 – 19 of the affidavit in support of the originating summons will show case the personal right of the plaintiffs under imminent danger of being breached. He submitted that as elected officers of the PDP, the plaintiffs have acquired a vested right to remain in office for four (4) years and that the denial of that right without fair hearing is actionable.

The term “Locus Standi”, meaning a standing to sue, denotes the legal capacity of a person or group of persons to institute proceedings in Court. It is a condition precedent to the institution of any action. A prospective plaintiff must show or disclose his interest in the subject matter of the litigation-before he can be clothed with the requisite standing to sue. His approach to the Court shall be for the purpose of protecting a right which is violated or under threat of violation. A plaintiff must also show that the reliefs) claimed in the action will confer some benefit on him, that is to say, he must not be a mere busy body or a meddlesome interloper. See-

EGOLUM Vs. OBANSANJO

(1999) 7 NWLR (Pt. 611) 355

ADESANYA Vs. PRESIDENT, FED. REP. OF NIGERIA (SUPRA)

In determining whether or not a plaintiff has locus standi the Court shall have recourse to the statement of claim alone as it is the only material that will show how the interest, of the plaintiff arose in the action. In an originating summons procedure such as in the instant case where pleadings are not filed, the affidavits filed by the parties are akin to pleadings. Therefore, it is the affidavit in support of the Originating Summons that the Court will look at to ascertain if the plaintiff discloses his interest and how the interest has arisen in the action. The Court will also look at the questions put forward for determination and the reliefs sought m coming to a determination of the locus standi of a plaintiff in a suit commenced by way of Originating Summons.

From the questions presented by the plaintiffs to this Court for determination, the reliefs sought and the affidavit in support of the originating summons, the plaintiffs have shown that they were duly elected members of toe Plateau State Executive Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party, with the first plaintiff as the Chairman. They were elected on 28/02/2008 and sworn in by the National Vice Chairman of the PDP (Northern Zone), Alhaji Ayitogo on 22/05/2008 for a term of four years as provided by the Constitution of the Party. Since then they have been discharging their functions creditably, including the attendance of the National Executive Committee meetings of the Party by the first plaintiff. Suddenly on 12/08/08, the National Working Committee via a press statement dissolved the Plateau State Executive Committee of the PDP and in its place appointed a Caretaker Committee to superintend the activities of the party in Plateau State. The plaintiffs stated in the affidavit in support of the Originating Summons that they were neither accused of any wrong doing nor consulted before the purported dissolution. They also deposed to the fact that they were not giving a hearing not to talk of fair hearing before the National Working Committee took the action it did, hence their resort to this Court not only to challenge the action of the National Working Committee but to seek the interpretation of the Party’s Constitution as well as the constitutionality of some of the provisions of the Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party. In the Originating Summons, the plaintiffs also sought for, among other reliefs a declaration that they have acquired a vested interest as members of the State Executive Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party.

The removal of the Plaintiffs as members of the Plateau State Executive Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party by the National Working Committee of the Party after they were duly elected and sworn into office for a period of four years and before the expiration of that period has given the plaintiffs more than sufficient interest to protect the right to remain in office for four years certain which they’ claimed accrued to them under the Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party. The interest of the plaintiffs in this action clearly superseded the interest of other members of the PDP in Plateau State by virtue of their being members of the Executive Committee of the Party in Plateau State. Here, we are not concern with the propriety or otherwise of the action of the National Working Committee, we are only concern with whether by that action of the National Working Committee the plaintiffs acquired a right to seek redress in a Court of law. Messrs G. S. Pwul and Solomon Umoh submitted on behalf of the 13th – 19th defendants that from the affidavit in support of the originating summons it cannot be said that the plaintiffs rights, obligation or interest have been violated such as to vest them with locus standi to maintain this action. I beg to disagree with this submission. Must the plaintiffs, after being removed from office less than midway into their tenure be arrested and imprisoned before their rights and interest can be said to have been violated? Is it not sufficient that their rights and pecuniary interest in the governance of the party in Plateau State is cut short? There is also

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the argument by Messrs Pwul and Umoh that from the nature of complaint raised hi this suit, the plaintiffs are not competent persons to file this suit but the 21st defendant hi line with the rule in Foss Vs. Harbottle. The 21st defendant is the Peoples Democratic Party, a registered Political party. The Rule in Foss Vs. Harbottle as applied in the case of Ejikeme Vs. Amaechi (supra) is that an action hi respect of a wrong alleged to have been done to a Company or association of persons can only be brought by the Company or association itself and no other. I totally fail to see how the rule in Foss Vs. Harbottle can be applied to the instant case. The Plaintiffs herein are not suing the defendants on behalf of the Peoples Democratic Party. They are suing the Defendants, which included the Peoples Democratic Party, for themselves and on behalf of the other members of the Plateau State Executive Committee of the Party. The wrong alleged to have been done which led to the institution of the suit was done by the PDP as a registered Political Party and those who suffered the alleged wrong are the plaintiffs. It is inconceivable that the Peoples Democratic Party can sue itself for wrong committed by itself as is being suggested by learned counsel for the 13th – 19th defendants. The rule in Foss Vs. Harbottle cannot apply to the facts of this case. In conclusion, I hold that the plaintiffs have exhibited not only sufficient interest but vested right to institute and prosecute this action. This ground of objection therefore fails.

ISSUE No. 2

On the ground of objection that this suit is non justiciable as the subject matter constitute internal affairs of the Peoples Democratic Party, I have considered the arguments for and against, along side the facts of the case and the authorities cited by learned counsel for both parties. In his argument on this issue learned counsel for the 1st – 12th, 20th and 21st defendants, Chief J. K. Gadzama SAN, submitted on the authority of JANG Vs. INEC (supra) that this suit being an intra party matter, an internal affairs of the Peoples Democratic Party, is exclusively outside the province of the Court as Courts do not interfere in intra party disputes. He submitted that the dissolution of the Plateau State Executive Committee of the PDF is clearly an issue within the spheres of domestic affairs of the Party and therefore not justiciable. ‘. le urged the Court to so hold on the authorities of Ehinlanwo, Onuoha and Dalhatu, cited supra.

Presenting their own argument on this ground of objection, Messrs G. S. Pwul and Solomon Uraoh, learned counsel for the 13th – 19th defendants submitted that the dissolution of the Plateau State Executive Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party is an issue that can be resolved under the Party’s Constitution as the said Constitution has made provisions for internal dispute resolution among its members. In addition to the cases cited by the learned senior counsel for the 1st -12th, 20th and 21st defendants, Messrs Pwul and Umoh also” referred the Court to the

case of Abdulkadir Vs. Mamman (supra) and urged the Court to uphold this ground of objection.

On his part learned senior counsel for the plaintiffs, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, submitted that what is in dispute here is the determination of the civil rights of the plaintiffs on whether the defendants can under both the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and that of the PDP dissolve the elected Executive Committee of the Party in Plateau State. He submitted that even if the dispute herein amounts to internal affairs of the PDP this Court still has the power to determine the plaintiffs’ claim in view of the decisions in the cases of Ugwu Vs. Ararume, Odeh Vs. INEC and Amaechi Vs. INEC cited earlier. He submitted that it is

pure political questions like the power of a political party to sponsor a candidate for an election that Courts are not allowed to enquire into. He submitted that where there is allegation of breach of individual’s right arising from the acts of some patty members or officials or the operation of the Party’s Constitution which impinges on the wider Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, then a Court of law has jurisdiction to entertain the matter by virtue of the provisions of Section 6(6) of the Constitution. Article 2 of the Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party provides:-

“Subject to the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, this Constitution shall be supreme and its provisions shall have binding force on all members and organs of the Party”

Article 21.2 provides:-

“(i) If any member of the Party is aggrieved, he or she shall report to the appropriate authority, (ii) If he or she is not satisfied, an appeal shall lie with the next higher party authority. (Hi) The National Executive Committee of the Party shall be the final arbiter”

On the powers of the National Executive Committee of the PDP, Article 12.72 of the Party’s Constitution provides inter alia, that the National Executive Committee shall ensure that all the organs of the Party function democratically and effectively; where necessary suspend or dissolve a State Executive Committee and such suspension or dissolution shall not exceed three months, consider appeal and other

matters referred to it by the zones or states of the Federation. Article 12.73 provides that the decisions of the National Executive Committee shall be binding

on all organs and members of the Party.

The National Working Committee on the other hand is empowered to, among other functions, act on behalf of the National Executive Committee subject to ratification by the National Executive Committee. However, this power to act is to be exercised by the National Working Committee only in situation of emergency.

It is now well settled that the Courts will not wade into internal matters of a political party as they do not have the jurisdiction to decide political questions. How a political. party is run as well as sponsorship of candidates for election by a political Party are purely political questions. They are matters within the internal affairs of a political party and therefore not justiciable. See – Dalhatu Vs. Turaki (supra) and Ehinlanwo vs. Oke (supra). In these two cases the Supreme Court held that the Courts do not interfere in the affairs of political parties, and matters ‘raising political questions as to how a political party should be run or who should be its candidate at an election is strictly a matter within the exclusive jurisdiction of the political parties and the Courts lack the jurisdiction to interfere. In coming to this conclusion, the Supreme Court followed its previous decision in the case of Onuoha Vs. Okafor (supra). In that case, like in the cases of Ehinlanwo Vs. Oke (supra) and Dalhatu Vs. Turaki (supra), the action of the Plaintiff was for an order to compel his political party – NPP, to nominate and sponsor him for election to a Senatorial seat. The Court held that the right to nominate and sponsor a candidate for election is the domestic affair of the NPP guided by its Constitution and the Court will not under whatever guise interfere with the exercise of this right by the Political Party. What I have attempted to show above in effect is that all the cases relied upon by the defendants /objectors centres around the right of political parties to sponsor candidates at election which cannot be questioned in Court as the exercise of that right falls within the domestic affairs of the Political Parties.

The complaint of the plaintiffs here is that the Executive Committee of the PDP in Plateau State, to which they are elected members, was dissolved by the National Working Committee of the Party after they have acquired a vested right to lead the Party in Plateau State for a period of 4 years through democratic election as provided by the party’s Constitution. It is this vested right that the plaintiffs come to Court to protect. The plaintiffs also complaint that they were sacked without fair hearing and for no wrong committed. Furthermore, the plaintiffs are also challenging the provisions of the Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party for being inconsistent with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, in that it permitted the National Executive Committee or the National Working Committee to dissolve a democratically elected State Executive Committee of the Party. Are these questions that can be resolved by the National Executive Committee on whose behalf the purported dissolution was made? Will it be fair and just for the National Executive Committee whose power the National Working Committee exercised in dissolving the Plateau State Executive Committee of the Party to sit over and determine the plaintiffs’ complaint? Will that not run counter to the twin pillars of natural justice expressed in the Latin Maxim -”Audi alteram partem” and “Nemo judex in causa sua”? Besides this, is the National Working Committee competent to determine the Constitutional questions raised in the Originating Summons? I am of the respectful view that the issues raised by the Plaintiffs in the originating summons and the reliefs claimed are not simple questions that can be internally resolved within the party. A political party does not have the power to determine whether or not the provision of its Constitution is

submitted that the defendants/applicants have not been able to show conclusively that the plaintiffs have breached any of the provisions of the PDP Constitution. He submitted that the suit deals more with the legality or otherwise of the PDP Constitution vis-a-vis the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999. He further submitted that Article 12.72 of the PDF Constitution will not divest this Court of jurisdiction to entertain this suit being a case which seeks the interpretation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 vis-a-vis the Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party.

Article 21.13 of the Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party makes the following provisions:-

“Any member of the Party who is aggrieved by the decision taken by any of the Organs or officers of the Party against him or her shall have the right of appeal within fourteen days of the decision to the immediate higher organ of the party”

The highest organ of the Peoples Democratic Party which is also the final arbiter in all disputes is the National Executive Committee. In terms of hierarchy the National Working Committee is next to the National Executive Committee, and in case of emergency the National Working Committee can perform the functions of the National Executive Committee. The power to dissolve the State Executive Committee of the Party is conferred by the Constitution of the Party exclusively on [the National Executive Committee. In the instant case, that power was exercised is on behalf of the National Executive Committee by National Working Committee [under the doctrine of emergency. That delegated power belongs to the National [Executive Committee and therefore whenever it is exercised, it is so exercised on overlooked by both parties but which I consider imperative to comment on. A look at the originating summons and all other processes filed in this suit reveals that the six plaintiffs are not only suing for themselves but also on behalf of the Plateau State Executive Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party. Articles 21.2 and 21.13 of the PDP Constitution dealing with remedies and Appeal respectively provided for remedies available to an aggrieved member of the Party as well as his right to appeal against the decision of any organ of the party to a higher organ. By the provision of the Constitution, the State Executive Committee is one of the numerous organs of the party from the Ward Executive to the National Executive Committee and the Board of Trustees. While the Constitution provides remedies for aggrieved members, it is silent on remedies available to an organ of the party that is aggrieved by the decision of a higher organ. What remedy is available to a State Executive Committee, which is an organ of the Party, that is aggrieved by an act of the National Working Committee in exercise of delegated power of the National Executive Committee? Reading through the entire Constitution of the Party, I cannot find any remedy available to an organ of the party. The interpretation section of the Constitution is also not of any help as the word to include organ of the party. In the case at hand, the wrong alleged was committed against an organ of the party, the Plateau State Executive Committee. Indeed the press statement by the National Working Committee of the PDP dated 12/08/09 in which the Executive Committee of the Party in Plateau State was dissolved did not mention names of individual members constituting the State Executive Committee. In the absence of remedies available to this organ of the Party within the Party’s Constitution, it is inconceivable to argue, as did the learned counsel for the defendants, that the plaintiffs cannot resort to the Court to ventilate their grievances.

ISSUE No. 4

The question here concerns the abuse of the process of this Court. In their objection which was filed by way of motion on notice, the 1st – 12th, 20* and 21st defendants predicated their objection on three grounds, one of which was that this action is an abuse of the process of Court as the plaintiffs have instituted similar action before the Federal High Court, Jos, on the same subject matter. In the affidavit of 17 paragraphs in support of the motion, no deposition at all was made in relation to the suit at the Federal High Court. Similarly through out the length and breadth of the written address of learned senior counsel for the 1st – 12th, 20th and 21st defendants in support of the motion on notice no reference was made to the suit at the Federal High Court just as the originating process of the purported suit is not annexed to the affidavit in support of the motion. The only conclusion to be drawn from this set of facts is that the 1st – 12th, 20th and 21st defendants have abandoned this ground of objection. Nothing more is left to be said on this ground of objection other than to overrule it, same having been abandoned. Objection overruled.

The net effect of all my findings and decisions on the two preliminary objections is that the objections lacked substance and are accordingly overruled and dismissed. Having decided as above, the coast is now cleared for the consideration of the originating summons on merit. I have already reproduced the questions for determination and the reliefs sought in the originating summons at the very beginning of this judgment. I will not repeat them here. I have also summarized the content of the main affidavit in support of the originating summons earlier on in this judgment.

In the written address filed along with the originating summons and the affidavit in support, Prince L. O. Fagbemi, SAN, counsel to the plaintiffs, treated the questions for determination in the order of their arrangement in the originating summons

On question 1 which deals with the Constitutionality of the provisions of Article 12.72(e) of the Constitution of PDP in view of sections 221, 222 and 223 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, learned senior counsel submitted, after making reference to the provisions of the above sections of the Constitution, that the clear meaning of those sections of the Constitution is that only democratic principles by way of periodical election of principal officers of political parties should be adopted. He submitted that inherent in the principles of democracy is the point that when officers are elected into office they can only be removed by the people or members who voted them in unless their tenure has expired. It is the argument of learned SAN that the power to suspend a State Executive Committee under Article 12.72(e) can only come into operation where election has not taken place at all while the power of dissolution can only be exercised when the Executive Committee refused to vacate after the expiration of their tenure. He argued that if the power to suspend and dissolve a State Executive Committee are exercisable before their due date or time as prescribed by the Party’s Constitution, then the provision of Article 12.72 (e) of PDP Constitution is illegal, inconsistent and unconstitutional having regard to the prescription of democratic principle enshrined in sections 222 and 223 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999. He urged the Court to visit Article 12.72(e) of the PDP Constitution with the total consequences prescribed by section 1 (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for its being inconsistent with the Nigerian Constitution.

Presenting argument on question 2, Prince Fagbemi referred the Court to section 223(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 which provides for periodical election of Executive Committees of Political Parties at regular intervals not exceeding four years and Article 14.1 of the PDP Constitution which prescribed four year tenure for its elected officers at National, Zonal, State, Local Government and Ward levels, and submitted that this provision is binding on the party to allow the four year term of the Plateau State Executive Committee. He referred the Court to the case of-

UGWU VS. ARARUME (2007) 12 NWLR

(Pt. 1048) 367 at 447.

Learned senior counsel argued questions 3,4, and 5 together because of their inter relatedness. The three questions deal with the concept of vested interest and the lack of hearing and /or fair hearing to the plaintiffs. He adopted his arguments on section 223 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 and Article 14.1 of the PDP Constitution and submitted that by their election of 18/2/08 and swearing in on 22/05/08 which was attended by the Zonal Chairman of the National Chairman, the Officers and members of the Plateau State Executive Committee have acquired a vested interest jointly and separately which must be respected and cannot be changed or wished away at the whims and caprices of anybody. On this submission learned counsel cited and relied on the authority of -

NDAYAKO VS. DANTORO.

(2004) 13 NWLR 187 at 216 – 217.

He submitted further that having acquired such an interest the plaintiffs and Plateau State Executive Committee of PDP can only be divested of it if they are giving fair hearing before any decision is taken in compliance with section 36(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, which was completely denied them. Prince Fagbemi SAN, argued with reference to exhibit DS2, the press statement, that even if the 20* defendant had the power to dissolve the Plateau State Executive Committee, the plaintiffs must not only be consulted but heard. He urged the Court to declare null and void and of no effect the decision contained in exhibit DS2 for refusal to give the plaintiffs a hearing before the decision was taken.

On the 6th question, it was submitted that having regards to Article 12.72 (e) of PDP Constitution, the 1st -12th defendants, constituting the National Working Committee of the 21st defendant, cannot unilaterally dissolve the Plateau State Executive Committee and in their place appoint, constitute and/or inaugurate the 13th – 19th defendants as a Caretaker Committee, as the power to do that resides only in the National Executive Committee, where necessary. The Court was urged to give the provisions of Article 12.72(e) of PDP Constitution its ordinary and grammatical meaning as the provision is clear and precise. On this submission, I was referred to the following authorities -

DALEK (NIG.) LTD Vs OMPADEC (2007) 7 NWLR (pt. 1033) 402 at 441

ADETOUN OLADEJI (NIG) LTD VS. NIGERIA BREWERIES PLC

(2007) ALL FWLR (Pt. 357) 837 at 851.

Prince Fagbemi submitted that it is the law that a Constitution of an association, like the 21st defendant, constitutes a binding contract between the members of the association inter se and with the association itself, and a breach of the Constitution raises the question of the Civil rights and obligations of members who are parties to the contract. Therefore, having inserted in its Constitution that only the National Executive Committee has the power to suspend or dissolve a State Executive Committee, the 20th defendant and all its organs/functionaries cannot run away from their duty to comply and enforce compliance with the provision of their constitution just as the Courts owe a duty to enforce compliance with the Constitution, which is the binding contract between the parties. The case of Ugwu Vs. Ararume (supra) at 461 was cited and relied upon in support of the above submission. He urged the Court to hold that the 1st – 12th defendants cannot unilateral dissolve the Plateau State Executive Committee of the 21st defendant not being the National Executive Committee of the 21st defendant.

On question 7, learned senior counsel submitted that assuming the 1st – 12th defendants have power to dissolve the Plateau State Executive Committee of the 21st defendant^ the exercise of that power is limited by Article 12.63 (b) of the Constitution of the 21st defendant to the existence of State of affairs, i.e., “in case of emergency.” He submitted that any purported exercise of the powers of the National Executive Committee of the 21st defendant by the 1st – 12th defendants as the National Working Committee in the absence of emergency constitutes a violation of Article 12.63(b) of the Constitution of the 21st defendant. He argued that where a person exercises a power that he does not have, what was done in the purported exercise of that power would amount to an exercise in futility. On this, the Court was referred to –

INAKOJU VS. ADELEKE

(2007) 7 NWLR (pt. 1025) 427 at 590.

It was further argued for the plaintiff that in purporting to dissolve the Plateau State Executive Committee of the 21st defendant, the 1st -12th defendants did not declare or pretend that a state of emergency exist in the Plateau State chapter of the 21st defendant. Prince Fagbemi, SAN, submitted that the perceived presence of lingering internal conflicts and/or factions cannot activate the powers envisaged under Article 12.63 (b).

Addressing the Court on the 8th question, learned counsel submitted that even if the 1st – 12th defendants have the power to dissolve the State Executive committee of the 21″ defendant, they cannot do that indefinitely or pending a State Congress which is to hold in no certain date, in view of the provision in Article 12.72 (e) of the 21st defendant’s Constitution. He submitted that the tenor in exhibit DS2 which fixes no date for the State Congress and no tenure for the Caretaker Committee is at large and in contravention of the Constitution of PDP. He submitted on the authority of -

CCB (Nig.) PLC Vs. A. G. Anambra State (1992) 10 SCNJ137 at 163,

that when a power is conferred for the doing of a thing and the procedure for exercising that power or doing that thing is equally prescribed, then that procedure and no other must be followed. He urged the Court to hold that even if the 1st -12* defendants have power to dissolve the Executive Committee of Plateau chapter of the PDP, the dissolution must be for a specific period not exceeding three months.

On the 9th and 10th questions which he argued together, learned senior counsel contended that even if the Court holds that the 1st – 12th defendants have power to dissolve the Executive Committee of the Plateau State chapter of the 21st defendant, the power is subject to ratification by the National Executive Committee, which means that the dissolution is inchoate, ineffective and without legal force unless and until it is ratified. He referred again to Article 12.63(b) of the Constitution of PDF and the case of P.T.F Vs. W.P.C Ltd (2007) 14 NWLR (Pt 1055) 478 at 496 on the meaning of the phrase “subject to.” He also referred to Black’s Law Dictionary, 7th Edition, on the meaning of the Word “ratification.” He submitted that since the power of the National Working Committee to act on behalf of the National Executive Committee is subject to ratification by the National Executive Committee, until the act is ratified it cannot produce legal effect and any action taken subsequent to the unratified act(s) would find no support or basis in law. Learned counsel urged the Court to hold that the purported dissolution of the Executive Committee of the Plateau State chapter of the 21st defendant is of no consequence and effect

Finally the Court was called upon to resolve all the questions in favour of the plaintiffs and grant all the reliefs claimed.

In the counter affidavit in opposition to the originating summons sworn to on behalf of the 1st – 12th, 20th and 21st defendants by one Uluba Mai Jawur, a Legal Practitioner in the law firm of J. K. Gadzama and Partners, Abuja, the deponent stated as follows:-

“4. That at about 2pm in the afternoon of 29th October, 2009, I was informed by Chief Olusola Oke, the National Legal Adviser of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDF) the 6th defendant in this case, during briefing in our Law Office concerning this suit and I verily believe him to be true as follows:-

(a)That all the parties in this case are members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDF).

(b)That all the parties are guided and bound by the provisions of the Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.

(c) That cause of action in this case relates to internal/domestic affairs of the Peoples Democratic Party.

(d)That paragraph four (4) of the Affidavit in support of the Originating Summons is not true, in that the said election was not conducted in accordance with both the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria” and the Constitution of Peoples Democratic Party.

(e)That there were two parallel elections held to the various offices of the State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party which created two factions in Plateau State.

(f) That as a result of the facts deposed to in paragraph 4 above, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) wrote letters and reports to the Peoples Democratic Party on the need to have the congresses rescheduled and reconstructed in accordance with the relevant provisions of the law. Attached hereto as Exhibits “A1, “A2″ and “A3″ respectively are from Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) dated 6th March, 2008, 9th April, 2008 and July 23,2008.

(g)That paragraph 5,6, 7 and 8 of the Affidavit in support of the Originating Summons are false.

(h)That similar action was instituted at the Federal High Court, Jos, by the same plaintiffs against the Peoples Democratic Party and some Defendants in this case seeking similar reliefs as in this case. A copy of the Writ of Summons and Statement of claim is attached and marked Exhibit “B”

(i) That as a result of the emergence of two parallel Executives of the State Officers of the Party in Plateau State, there was so much acrimony and crisis in the party which almost led to break down of law and order in the state.

(j) That it was to avoid a total breakdown of law and order and the imminent threat to lives and properties that informed the decision of the National Working Committee of the Party to dissolve the State Executive Chapter of the Party.

(k)That contrary to the paragraph 16 of the affidavit, National Officers -of the Party took all necessary steps and held consultations with the two factions of the State Executive for the purpose of resolving the crisis in the party which proved abortive.

(i) That the dissolution of the plaintiffs was to motion peace and order in the Party in the spirit of the Party’s Constitution.”

In the written address filed in support of the counter affidavit learned senior counsel for the 1st – 12th, 20th and 21st defendants, J.K. Gadzama, SAN, formulated two issues or questions which in his view calls for determination by this Court. The questions are:-

(1)Does this suit not amount to an abuse of the process of the Court same having been instituted by the same defendants (sic: plaintiffs?) against the defendants and seeking the same reliefs at the Federal High Court, Jos, being a Court of co-ordinate jurisdiction with this Hon. Court?

(2) If the institution of this action is an abuse of Court process, then what should this Honourable Court do at (sic: in) the circumstance to prevent its abuse and maintain its sanctity?

In his written address on the first issue Chief Gadzama, SAN, submitted that this suit constitute an abuse of the process of this Court in that the plaintiffs herein have filed a similar suit before the Federal High Court Jos, claiming the same reliefs as the reliefs in the present suit. He submitted that the Federal High Court and this Court are Courts of co-ordinate jurisdiction by virtue of sections 251 and 272 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999. In a very rich address in terms of authorities of abuse of Court process, (19 of such authorities were cited) learned senior counsel submitted that the plaintiffs herein are the 1st – 6th plaintiffs in the suit before the Federal High Court while the 21st defendant is the 27th defendant in that suit and that since the 1st – 12th defendants are the National Officers of the 21st defendant and the 20th defendant being the National Working Committee of the 21st defendant, this present suit constitute an abuse of Court process as the reliefs in the two suits are also the same. He urged the Court to so hold. Some of the authorities cited and relied on by counsel are:-

AMAEFULE VS. STATE (1988) 2 NWLR (Pt. 75) 156 at 177

AFRICAN RE-CORP VS. JDP CONST. (NIG.) LTD (2003) 13 NWLR (Pt 838) 609 at 635

OGUNSOLA VS. A.P.P. (2003) 9 NWLR (826) 46 at 486 – 487

KABO AIR LTD VS. INCO. BEV. LTD (2003) 6 NWLR (Pt 816) 323 at 337 – 338.

DAPIANLONG VS. DARIYE (2007) 8 NWLR (Pt 1036) 239 at 322.

On the second issue for determination, it was the argument of Chief Gadzama that where the Court finds that its processes is abused the proper order to make is that of dismissal and no reason is required to be given. He submitted that it is not in doubt that the same action is pending before the Federal High Court against the

same defendants by the same plaintiffs with the same reliefs being sought. Learned senior counsel referred to the cases of-

OGUNSOLA VS. A.P.P (supra),

NYAHVSNOAH

(2007) 4 NWLR (pt. 1024) 320 at 337,

ONYEABUCHI VS. ENEC

(2002) 417 at 441 – 442 and

C. O. M. INC. VS. COBHAM

(2006) 15 NWLR (1002) 283 at 303

and urged the Court to dismiss this suit for constituting an abuse of Court process.

The 13th – 19th defendants filed in opposition to the originating summons a counter affidavit of 18 paragraphs sworn to by Chief Abu King Shuluwa, the 13th defendant and the Chairman of the Plateau State PDP Caretaker Committee. He deposed to the following facts: -

4. That the Plateau State Chapter of the 21st Defendant was engulfed in serious political problems that degenerated into the emergence of two parallel factions with separate secretariats and separate sets of leadership.

5. That the crisis led to the division of party members into these two parallel camps, with each functioning as the State Executive Committee of the 21st Defendant.

6. That this crisis of leadership was reflected at the National convention, where the two camps represented and which invariably led to an embarrassing squabble.

7. That the 21st Defendant through the 1st12th defendants took several steps to reconcile the factionalized members which included mandating Chief Solomon D. Lar a chieftain of the 21st Defendant in Plateau State to mediate.

8. That all efforts at reconciling the factionalized members proved abortive.

9. That sequel to the above state of affairs, the 21st defendant could not fold its arms to see its stake in Plateau State degenerate to a State of anarchy.

10.That consequent upon this, the National Working Committee of the 21st defendant invoked its power under Article 12.63(b) of its constitution to arrest the situation and pave way to peaceful co-existence and reconciliation.

11.That in exercise of the aforesaid power of the 20th defendant, the Executive Committee of the 21” defendant in Plateau State was dissolved on 12th August, 2009 in order to forestall the total and irretrievable collapse of the 21″ defendant in Plateau State.

12.That consequent to the above, a Caretaker Committee comprising of the 13th – 19th Defendants was set up on the same 12th August, 2009 to man the affairs of the 21st Defendant in Plateau State for the stipulated period of “not more than three months.”

I3.That the Caretaker Committee was inaugurated and sworn on the 17th August, 2009 at 9.00 in the Headquarters of the 2l” Defendant at plot 1970 Michael Okpara Street, Wadata Plaza Wuse, Abuja.

14.That the Caretaker Committee comprising of the 13th – 19th Defendants

was set up to arrest the raging crisis in the State and to reconcile the factionalized members of the 21st defendant in Plateau State.”

In the written address in support of the counter affidavit, learned counsel for the 13th – 19th defendants, Messrs G. S. Pwul and Solomon Umoh identified and formulated three issues for determination in the following words:-

(i) Whether the provision of Article 12.72 (e) of the Constitution of the 21st defendant is in conflict with the provision of sections 221, 222 ad 223 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, so as to divest the National Executive Council (sic: Committee) or the National Working Committee of the 21st defendant of its power therein over, the PDP State Executive Committee.

(ii) Whether in view of the facts and circumstances of this case, the National working Committee can, in accordance with the provision of Article 12.63 (b) of the Constitution of the 21st Defendant, dissolve the Executive Committee of its Plateau State chapter and inaugurate a Caretaker Committee in its stead.

(iii) Whether the institution of this suit is not premature in view of the fact that the plaintiffs have not exhausted all the internal dispute resolution mechanism of the 21st defendant before instituting this suit.

Addressing the Court on the first issue, learned counsel submitted that the provisions of sections 221, 222 and 223 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria have no relevance to the issue at hand in this case as neither section 222 nor 223 prohibits the removal, dissolution or suspension of a political party’s executive committee by any of its organs in appropriate circumstance. They submitted that section 223 of the constitution is only concerned with periodic election on a democratic basis but is loudly silent about how the tenure of a democratically elected Executive comes to an end, such details been left to be supplied by the Constitution of the concerned Political Party. That it is in recognition of this that the Constitution of the 21st defendant allows for dissolution of the Executive Committee in appropriate circumstance. Learned counsel further submitted that assuming the provision of section 223 of the Constitution is concerned with how the tenure of an Executive Committee of a Political Party is determined, that provision is only applicable to the National Executive Committee and not State branches of a party. In urging the Court to give section 223 its ordinary and natural meaning, learned counsel referred to the cases of-

BRONIK MOTORS LTD VS. WEMA BANK LTD (1983) 1SCLR 296

UGWU VS. ARARUME (supra)

They urged the Court to hold that the provisions of sections 221,222 and 223 of the 1999 Constitution are patently inapplicable to the Plateau State Executive Committee of PDP as such the provision of Article 12.72 of the Constitution of the PDF cannot be said to be inconsistent with the provision of the 1999 Constitution. The Court was urged to resolve this issue in favour of the 13th – 19th defendants.

On the second issue, learned counsel argued that the Constitution of the 21st defendant is supreme and binding on all members and therefore anybody who joins the party invariably implies his willingness to be bound by the party’s Constitution And to submit to its supremacy. Learned counsel submitted that the import of Articles 12.72 (e) and 12.63(b) of the Constitution of the 21st defendant is that the National Working Committee is empowered to take action on behalf of the National Executive Committee which includes dissolving a State Executive. They submitted that once the action of the 21″ defendants is in consonance with the provisions of its own Constitution, the Court cannot interfere, as the duty of the Court in such a case is to interpret the provision of the Constitution of the 21st defendant without recourse to any external aid like the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999. It was further submitted for the 13th – 19th defendants that it does not lie in the mouth of the plaintiffs to deny the applicability of the Constitution of the 21st defendant when they claimed to have been elected on the basis of the said Constitution. Counsel submitted that the plaintiffs resort to the Nigerian Constitution for cover is untenable hi the circumstances, as it does not arise in the first place.

Issue No. 3 which concerns the premature nature of the suit without recourse to the internal dispute resolution mechanisms enshrined in the Constitution of the PDP has been dealt with and resolved during the consideration of the preliminary objection. Accordingly, all my findings, reasoning, decisions and conclusion on that issue under the preliminary objection are hereby adopted. This therefore obviates the necessity of reviewing counsel’s submission on this issue and making a decision on same.

After being served with the counter affidavits and written addresses of the two sets of defendants, learned senior counsel for the plaintiffs filed a further affidavit and written address with the leave of Court. The further affidavit is of 30 paragraphs and was sworn to by Professor Dakum Shown. He deposed among other facts that:-

“5. I have read the counter affidavit of Uluba Mai Jawur Esq. for the

1″ – 12th, 20th and 21st defendants and Chief Abu King Shuluwa for the 13th – 18* Defendants, but I know as a fact that most of the depositions therein are not true.

6. I know that the Executive Committee of the Party in Plateau State has never been factionalized from inception till date and the Party have been run with no rancor, complaint or dispute of any form within the leadership of the Party until the purported dissolution of the State Executive Committee by the National Working Committee of the Party.

7. I know that the alleged parallel camp which purportedly formed

another State Executive Committee are in fact members of opposing Political Parties who, with the support of a few disgruntled erstwhile peaceful membership of the party in the State with a view to destabilizing and truncating the current unprecedented developmental focus of the present administration in the State.

8. I know that the State Executive Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party in Plateau State is not a “faction” as alleged, but was duly elected, constituted and inaugurated in accordance with the Party Constitution, and was accorded full recognition as such by the National Working Committee and National Executive Committee of the Party both by their conduct and through numerous exchange of correspondence.

9. I know that on the 27th day of February, 2009, the National Vice Chairman, North Central Zone of the Peoples Democratic Party, and a member of the National Executive Committee, Alhaji Yusuf

A. Ayitogo, alongside his zonal Secretary North Central zone, Johnson Kumbut Paah, issued a widely circulated and published press release in which they did not only disown the said parallel Party and its Executive Committee in the State, but also condemned in totality as “illegal, null and void” the action of “disgruntled” elements who are out to cause disaffection “in our dear Party.” A copy of the said press release is exhibited hereto and marked “AA”.

10. In the said press release, the Party stated that “the only authentic and recognized Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Executive Committee in Plateau State is that led by Prof. Dakum Shown.”

14. Prior to the said press statement, I know that the National Working Committee of the Party, through the Party’s National Chairman, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor and other national officers, gave full recognition to the plaintiffs through the following invitations and special invitations.

(a) Letter dated 8tk October, 2008 addressed to me as State Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Plateau State, signed by Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, OFR (National Chairman), inviting the State Executive Committee to attend PDP National stakeholders Forum Scheduled for October, 23- 25, 2008 at Uyo, a copy of which is exhibited hereto and marked “BB”

(b) Letter dated 23rd December, 2008 addressed to all State Chairmen of PDP, signed by Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje (National Secretary), inviting all party Chairmen to attend a National Rally at Gusau, Zamfara State to receive the Governor of Zamfara State, Alhaji Mahmmud Shinkafi and his teaming supporters into PDP on Thursday, 8th January, 2009, a copy whereof is exhibited hereto and marked “CC.(c) Letter dated 19th January, 2009 addressed to me as the Chairman, Peoples Democratic Party Plateau State, signed by Engr. Yunusa A Afolabi (Principal Secretary to National Secretary for National Secretary), requesting me to ensure the collection of monies for the funding of the Party and 10. In the said press release, the Party stated that “the only authentic and recognized Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Executive Committee in Plateau State is that led by Prof. Dakum Shown.”

14. Prior to the said press statement, I know that the National Working Committee of the Party, through the Party’s National Chairman, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor and other national officers, gave full recognition to the plaintiffs through the following invitations and special invitations.

(a) Letter dated 8th October, 2008 addressed to me as State Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Plateau State, signed by Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, OFR (National Chairman), inviting the State Executive Committee to attend PDP National stakeholders Forum Scheduled for October, 23- 25, 2008 at Uyo, a copy of which is exhibited hereto and marked “BB”

(b) Letter dated 23rd December, 2008 addressed to all State Chairmen of PDP, signed by Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje (National Secretary), inviting all party Chairmen to attend a National Rally at Gusau, Zamfara State to receive the Governor of Zamfara State, Alhaji Mahmmud Shinkafi and his teaming supporters into PDP on Thursday, 8th January, 2009, a copy whereof is exhibited hereto and marked “CC.” (c) Letter dated 19th January, 2009 addressed to me as the Chairman, Peoples Democratic Party Plateau State, signed by Engr. Yunusa A Afolabi (Principal Secretary to National Secretary for National Secretary), requesting me to ensure the collection of monies for the funding of the Party and remitting same to the National Party Secretariat. A copy of the said letter is exhibited hereto and marked “DD”

(d) Letter dated 22nd January, 2009 addressed to me as State

»

Chairman of PDP Plateau State, signed by A. S. Okoro for National Secretary, title: “MINI NATIONAL CONVENTION AND AMENDMENT OF THE PDP CONSTITUTION”, requesting me to remind all members of the Party who seek to propose amendments to the PDP Constitution, of the provisions of Sections 26.2 and 263 of the 2006 Constitution as amended. A copy of the letter is exhibited hereto and marked “EE”,

(e) Letter dated 20th March, 2009 addressed to all PDP State Chairmen and FCT, signed by Musa Babayo PHD, Deputy National Secretary and Secretary Fund Raising Committee, inviting me to a meeting with the Vice President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and members of the fund Raising Committee for the new National Secretariat at Abuja on Thursday, 2″d April,2009 and to come along with the complete templates for all elected and appointed members of bur Party as earlier circulated in the last NEC meeting. A copy of the letter is exhibited hereto and marked “FF”.

(f) Letter dated 9th June, 2009 addressed to me as State Chairman of PDP Plateau State, signed by Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje, National Secretary, inviting me to attend stakeholders meeting with the National Working Committee of the Party on Thursday, the 16th July, 2009 at 17.1 know that the Caretaker Committee of the Party being the 13th to 19th Defendants herein was never given three months as alleged, or any time limit within which to carry out its assignment.

18.1 know that the action of the Defendants created a lot of tension and near anarchy in the State, but for this lawsuit which restored hope and calm to the entire membership of the Party in the State.

19.1 know that the list of National Delegates from Plateau State is usually compiled by me and submitted to the National Headquarters of the Party. On the 9th of March, 2009, I submitted the list of the State’s National Delegates for the special National Convention of the Party and no dispute arose on the list which was used and relied upon by the Party at the Convention. A copy of the list is attached hereto and marked exhibit “LL”

20.1 know that the same delegates on exhibit “LL” referred to above were the delegates I submitted from Plateau State at the National Convention where the 1st – 12th defendants and other national officers were elected.

21.1 know that the State Congress of the Party where the Plaintiffs under my Chairmanship were elected was monitored by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which body has consistently given recognition to the plaintiffs.

22.1n an amended statement of defence filed by INEC (as 26th Defendant) in suit No. FHC/J/CS/16/2009 between Prof. Dakum Shown and 29 Ors. Vs. Chief Emmanuel T. Mangni & 25 Ors at the Federal High Court Jos on 5th November, 2009, the said INEC at paragraph 14 thereof, averred that “as far as PDP Exco are concerned in Plateau State,” only the Plaintiffs are recognized by INEC. A certified true copy of the said amended statement of Defence is exhibited hereto and marked “MM”,

24.That I was informed by one of my Lawyers, Mr. Omosanya. Popoola, a counsel in the Chambers of Lateef O. Fagbemi SAN & Co, on the 10th day of December, 2009 at Renaissance Chambers, 17 Beach Road, Jos at 10.00am and I verily believe him, that on the morning of 17th August, 2009 prior to the inauguration of the 13th to 19th Defendants which was slated for Tuesday the 18th of August, 2009 he served the l” to 12th, 20th and 21st Defendants with stamped copies of the originating summons, motion exparte and motion on notice in this matter (Suit No. PLD/J/377M1/2009) for an order of injunction restraining the l” to 12th, 20th and 21″ Defendants from inaugurating the 13th to 19th Defendants, which processes were received by the National Legal Adviser of PDP, Chief Olusola Oke (6th Defendant) personally, and he directed Ndam Nanchang, Clerical Assistant at the PDP National Headquarters to sign the acknowledgement copy on his behalf. A copy of the covering letter dated 14tk August, 2009 forwarding the said Court processes with the endorsement of receipt thereof, together with copies of the said processes, is exhibited hereto and marked “NN”.

25. I know that the defendants flagrantly disregarded the Court processes and took steps to defeat the plaintiffs prayers,

27..I know that the 13th defendant, for himself and on behalf of the other Defendants, have granted press interviews where he asserts that he is not bound by the orders of this Honourable Court and has threatened to go ahead with the conduct of Congresses at the Ward, Local Government and State levels in the State. Copies of media reports on the said interviews are attached herewith as follows:

(a) A copy of Thisday Newspaper online edition of 22nd October, 2009 captioned “PDP Caretaker Committee Dismisses Court Order” is exhibited hereto and marked “OO”.

(b) A copy of the Nation Newspaper edition of 22nd October, 2009 at page 6 thereof captioned “Plateau: Court may slam contempt charge on Ogbulafor” is exhibited hereto and marked “PP”.

(c ) A copy of Daily Trust Newspaper edition of 14th October, 2009 at page 56 thereof, captioned Plateau: PDP Committee submits interim report”, is exhibited hereto and marked “”QQ”.

28.

That none of the Defendants have denied or retracted the said publications attributed to them, and I know that the Caretaker Committee members are still parading themselves in Plateau State with a view to conducting congress at all levels.

29. That the Caretaker Committee with the active connivance of the other Defendants have pasted posters in all the Local Government Headquarters in Plateau State inviting party faithful to go for fresh membership registration, and I know that this is preparatory to the holding of Congresses towards electing new officials to replace the plaintiffs. A copy of the poster, is exhibited hereto and marked RR.”

In response to the further affidavit and written address filed on behalf of the plaintiffs, the 13th – 19th defendants filed a further and better counter affidavit and a written address. The further and better counter affidavit was sworn to by Bitrus Fwangshak, a Legal Practitioner in the Law Firm of G. S. Pwul & Partners, Jos. I will consider the further affidavit and address as well as the further counter affidavit and address in the course of the consideration of the issues that had arisen for determination in this suit.

The submissions of Chief Gadzama, SAN in his written address in support of the 1st – 12th, 20th and 21st defendants’ counter-affidavit to the Originating Summons which centres on abuse of the process of Court is in the nature of preliminary objection. It must therefore be disposed off first before any step is taken. This issue was earlier on abandoned before it now resurfaced. As reviewed earlier, the contention of Chief Gadzama, SAN, is that this suit constitutes an abuse of the process of this -Court in that the plaintiffs have filed a similar suit on the same subject – matter against the same defendants seeking for the same reliefs at the Federal High Court, Jos Judicial Division. This submission was made with reference to paragraph 4(h) of the counter affidavit of Uluba Mat Jawur in opposition to the originating summons in which he stated:

“That similar action was instituted at the Federal High Court, Jos, by the same plaintiffs against the Peoples Democratic Party •ad some Defendants la this case seeking similar reliefs as in this case. A copy of the Writ of Summons and Statement of claim is attached and marked Exhibit “B”.

In his further address in support of the further affidavit of Professor Dakum Shown, learned senior counsel for the plaintiff did not address the court on this all important issue. I will therefore consider this issue on its merit and not because issues on it are joined.

In exhibit “B” annexed to the counter-affidavit of the 1st – 12th, 20th and 21st defendants in opposition to the Originating Summons, which is the Amended Writ of Summons and Amended Joint Statement of claim in suit No. FHC/J/CS/16/2009 between Professor Dakum Shown and 29 others Vs. Emmanuel T. Mangni & 26 Others, the plaintiffs therein claimed the following reliefs:-

In his further address in support of the further affidavit of Professor Dakum Shown, learned senior counsel for the plaintiff did not address the court on this all important issue. I will therefore consider this issue on its merit and not because issues on it are joined.

In exhibit “B” annexed to the counter-affidavit of the 1st – 12th, 20th and 21st defendants in opposition to the Originating Summons, which is the Amended Writ of Summons and Amended Joint Statement of claim in suit No. FHC/J/CS/16/2009 between Professor Dakum Shown and 29 others Vs. Emmanuel T. Mangni & 26 Others, the plaintiffs therein claimed the following reliefs:-

“38. Wherefore the plaintiffs claim against the defendants as follows:-

(1)A declaration that the decision, resolution and the press release made and/or published in the media by the l” – 25th defendants in which they allegedly sacked the plaintiffs as members of the Plateau State Working Committee is against the Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party, illegal, null and void.

(2) A declaration that the indictments made by the 1* – 25* defendants against the plaintiffs is a gross violation of the

plaintiffs; fundamental right to fair hearing.

(3) A declaration that election and/or selection of the 1* – 25th defendants as Officers of the Plateau State Working Committee of the PDF is a gross violation of the Constitution of the Party.

(4)An order of injunction restraining the l” – 25th defendants and all the other persons they represent, their agents, servants, followers, privies or howsoever described from parading or continue to parade themselves as members of the Plateau State Working Committee of the PDP.

(5) An order staying aside any resolution passed, declarations made or decision reached at any gathering whatsoever on behalf of the Plateau State PDP Working Committee.”

These processes are dated 18th June, 2009. The Amended Writ of Summons was issued on 22nd June, 2009. It is very clear to the naked eye that the reliefs claimed in the suit before the Federal High Court which I reproduced above is in no way the same with the reliefs claimed in the present suit which I also reproduced verbatim at the beginning of this judgment. While the reliefs claimed in this suit are against the National Working Committee and the Plateau State Caretaker Committee of the PDP, the reliefs claimed in the suit before the Federal High Court are against the Plateau State Working Committee.

What is more, the parties in the two suits are far from being the same. Even though the plaintiffs in the instant action are the 1st – 6th plaintiffs in the suit before the Federal High Court, the remaining 24 plaintiffs before the Federal High Court are not parties in this suit. With respect to the defendants, other

than the 27th defendant, the Peoples Democratic Party, none of the other 26 defendants are parties to this suit. Therefore the parties in suit No. FHC/J/CS/16/09 before the Federal High Court are not the same parties in this case before this Court. With respect to the subject matter and issues in the two suits, it is again not in doubt that the subject matter hi the suit before this Court arose following the dissolution of the Plateau State Executive Committee of the PDP by the National Working Committee on 12th August, 2009. The suit before the Federal High Court however is sequel to the purported sacking of the Plateau State Working Committee (Not Executive Committee) by other members of the Plateau State POP (Not National Working Committee) led by Chief Emmanuel T. Mangni. The issues in the two suits are therefore not the same. Furthermore, the cause of action in the suit before the Federal High Court as attested to by the Amended Writ of Summons and the Amended statement of claim arose sometimes in February, 2009, while the cause of action in the suit before this Court only accrued on 12/08/09.

I am at one with the learned senior counsel for the 1st – 12th, 20th and 21stdefendants that by the combined effect of the provisions of sections 251 and 272 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, the Federal High Court and this Court are Courts of co-ordinate jurisdiction. However, this is how far my agreement with the learned Senior Advocate goes. In the case of African Re-Corp. vs. JDP construction (Nig.) Ltd (supra) cited by Chief Gadzama, the Supreme Court said about abuse of Court process:

“There is said to be an abuse of the process of the Court when a Party improperly uses the issue of the judicial process to the irritation or annoyance of his opponent, such as instituting a multiplicity of actions on the same subject matter against the same opponent on the same issue.”

Therefore for an action to be declared an abuse of the process of Court, it must be shown quiet clearly that there is a similar action between the same parties in respect of the same subject matter. I have already shown above the distinction between this suit and the other suit at the Federal High Court. Having found that the parties, the subject matter, the issues and the reliefs claimed in that suit and the present action are distinct, I hold that this suit did not constitute an abuse of the process of this Court. Accordingly the entire address of the learned senior counsel for the 1st – 12th, 20th and 21st defendants having been centred on the concept of abuse of the process of Court is hereby discountenanced. In the result, I resolved the two issues formulated by him in favour of the plaintiffs.

I have in the proceeding pages resolved the third issue formulated for the 13th -19th defendants against them and in favour of the Plaintiffs by holding that this suit is not premature. What is now left for determination are the ten questions raised in the originating summons and the two of the three issues formulated on behalf of the 13th – 19th defendants. Even though I have discountenanced the entire submissions of Chief Gadzama, SAN, I will at the appropriate time in this judgment refer to some salient but germane facts in the counter affidavit of Uluba Mai Jawur sworn to on behalf of the 1st – 12th, 20th and 21st defendants.

Section 222 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 provides inter alia;

“No association by whatever name called shall function as a political

party, unless

(a) …………………………

(b) ……………………

(c ) A copy of its Constitution is registered in the principal office of the Independent National Electoral Commission in such form as may be prescribed by the Independent National Electoral Commission”

Section 223 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 provides

(1) The Constitution and rules of a Political party shall:

(a) Provide for the periodical election on a democratic basis of the

principal officers and members of the executive committee or other governing body of the political party,

(b) Ensure that the members of the executive committee or other governing body of the Political Party reflect the Federal character of Nigeria.

(2) For the purpose of ‘this section:-

(a)J.ie election of the officers or members of the executive committee of a political party shall be deemed to be periodical only if it is made at regular intervals not exceeding four years.

Article 12.72 of the Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party provides among other functions that the National Executive Committee shall, where necessary, suspend or dissolve a State Executive Committee and such suspension or dissolution of a State Executive Committee shall not exceed three months. The provisions of sections 222 and 223 of the Constitution quoted above implies that political parties are mandated to imbibe the ideals of democratic principles by ensuring that their constitutions provides for periodic election of their officers as opposed to selection or imposition which democracy abhors. In compliance with these constitutional provisions, the Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party provides in Article 14.1 as follows:-

“All National, Zonal, State, Local Government Area and Ward officers of the party shall hold office for a term of four years and shall be eligible for re-election at the National Convention or appropriate Congress for a further term of four years and no more.”

This provision has shown in clear terms that the elected members of the Executive Committee at all levels of the Party hierarchy shall hold office for an uninterrupted period of four years. However the same Constitution of the PDP in Article 12.72 (e) empowers the National Executive committee to suspend or dissolve a State Executive Committee irrespective of whether their tenure expires or not.

Prince L. O. Fagbemi, SAN, argued that under democratic principles when officers are elected into office they can only be removed by the people or members who voted them in unless their tenure has expired. He submitted that if power to suspend or dissolve the State Executive Committee of the PDP is exercisable before the expiration of their tenure as provided by the Party’s Constitution, then the provision of Article 12.72 (e) of the PDP Constitution is illegal, inconsistent and unconstitutional in view of the prescription of democratic principles contained in sections 222 and 223 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.

“Presenting argument one issue one formulated by them, learned counsel for the 13th – 19* defendants submitted that sections 221, 222 and 223 of the Nigeria Constitution have no relevance to the issue at hand as neither of the sections prohibits the removal or suspension of a political party’s Executive Committee by any of its organs in appropriate situation. On Section 223, they argued that apart from providing for periodic election, the section is silent on how the tenure of elected officers will come to an end and that it is in order to fill this gap that the PDP Constitution allows for dissolution.

Peoples Democratic Party as a Political Party and other registered Political Parties in Nigeria owe their very existence as well as their monopoly to canvass for votes and present candidates for election into various elective offices, to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 and the Electoral Act, 2006. They are therefore expected to conform with the provisions of the Organic Law of the land and the Electoral Act in all their dealings and actions. As fundamental stake holders in the democratic process and principal beneficiaries of our democratic experiment, Political Parties must ensure that their manifestos and Constitutions are devoid of provisions reminiscent of Military totalitarianism and dictatorship. The provisions of sections 222 and 223 of the Nigerian Constitution concern political parties, their organizations, leadership and rules. By providing that the Constitution of Political Parties shall provide for periodic election of principal officers and Executive Committee, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 left no one in doubt that the Constitution of Political Parties shall not give room for any arbitrariness in the determination of the leadership of the party at all levels. It is inconceivable that a Constitution of a Political party which provides for four years tenure for elected officers at the State level will empower the National Executive Committee to dissolve such elected officers with Military -like fiat, a case of taking away by the left hand what was given by the right. This type of provision in the Constitution of the PDP not only run contrary to the tenets and essence of democracy but violated the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, to which the Peoples Democratic Party owed its existence. It is inherent in democratic principles, as submitted by Prince L. O. Fagbemi, that when officers are elected into office they can only vacate at the expiration of their tenure or be removed by the Congress or members that elected them either by way of impeachment or no confidence vote. The provision of Article 14.1 which prescribed 4 years tenure for elected officers is binding on the party. To the extent that Article 12.72(e) of the Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party empowers the National Executive Committee to summarily dissolve an elected State Executive Committee, the provision of that Article ran contrary to the prescription of democratic principle enshrined in sections 222 and 223 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 and therefore liable to be struck down. I so order.

On the submission by Messrs Pwul & Umoh that the reference to the Constitution of the Federal Republic simply does not arise. I wish to state that even the Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party itself recognized the fact that the Party is a creation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 so there is no running away from the Constitution. Article 2 of the PDP Constitution subjected the supremacy of that Constitution to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Therefore any section or Article of the PDP Constitution that ran contrary to the intendment of the 1999 construction will suffer the consequences of its inconsistency with the Grund norm. This is what I have just done to Article 12.72 (e). In view of my decision above, I hereby resolve issue one formulated by counsel to the 13th – 19th defendants arid question 1 and 2 on the summons in favour of the plaintiffs.

The second issue formulated by the 13th – 19th defendants is on whether the National Working Committee can, in accordance with the provision of Article 12.63 (b) of the Constitution of the 21st defendant dissolve the Executive Committee of its Plateau State chapter.

Article 12.63 of the Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party provides for the* functions of the National Working Committee in the following words:-

“12.63. The National Working Committee shall

(a) be responsible for the day to day administration of the party and shall be responsible to the National Executive Committee.

(b) in case of emergency, act on behalf of the National Executive Committee subject to ratification by the National Executive Committee;

(c)perform such other functions as may be assigned to it by the

National Executive Committee.

According to the counter affidavit of Chief Abu King Shuluwa, the National Working Committee invoked its powers under Article 12.63(b) of the Party’s Constitution to dissolve the two parallel factions of the Party that emerged following crisis that engulfed the 21st defendant in Plateau State. In the said counter-affidavit, Chief Abu King Shuluwa who is the Chairman of the Caretaker Committee appointed by the National Working Committee for Plateau State, deposed to the fact that the Caretaker Committee is to man the affairs of the PDP in Plateau State for a period of not more than three months. A cursory look at exhibit-DS2-annexed-ttrtheaffidavit in support of the originating summons, i.e., the Press statement dissolving the Plateau State Executive Committee of the Party, will reveal some contradictions in the affidavit of Chief Abu King Shuluwa. While Chief Shuluwa talked about parallel factions of the Party, the Press statement signed by Professor Rufai Ahmed Alkali, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, talked about the dissolution of the Plateau State Executive Committee headed by Professor Dakum Shown and the faction led by Chief Emmanuel Maugni – not two factions as alleged by Chief Abu King Shuluwa.

Again, in paragraph 12 of his counter affidavit, Chief Shuluwa deposed to the fact that the Caretaker Committee which he headed is to man the activities of the Party” in Plateau for not more than three months. The terms of reference of the Caretaker Committee and how long the Committee will man the affairs of the party in Plateau State as circumscribed by the Press Statement is “pending a State Congress to elect a new Executive Committee.” No time is stated for the state congress. That deposition in the counter affidavit has therefore run foul of concrete documentary evidence before the Court. Learned counsel for the 13th -19th defendants submitted on this issue that the combined effect of Articles 12.72 (e) and 12.63(b) of the PDP Constitution is that the National Working Committee is empowered to take action on behalf of the National Executive Committee, and that such a decision becomes binding on members of the Party because of the supremacy of the party’s Constitution on its members.

Assuming the provision of Article J2.72(e) is not struck down, by that Article it is only the National Executive Committee of the PDP that is empowered to dissolve the State Executive Committee of the Party. Under Article 12.63(b) of the Constitution of the 21s1 defendant, the National Working Committee is not empowered to dissolve the State Executive Committee. It is only accorded a delegated power to act on behalf of the National Executive Committee. That power is not absolute but subject to a condition precedent expressed in the phrase “in case of emergency.The efficacy of the exercise of that power is equally subject to the happening of an event i.e., ratification by the National Executive Committee. Therefore, whenever the exercise of that power by the National Working Committee is challenged, the onus lies on the National Working committee to prove the existence of emergency and subsequent ratification of its action by the National Executive Committee in order to give legal effect to its action.

The Oxford Advanced learners Dictionary of Current English by A. S. Hornby, sixth Edition, defines the word “emergency” at page 378 to mean “sudden serious and dangerous event or situation which needs immediate action to deal with it.”

Inherent in the definition of emergency is the word “sudden” which is defined by the same Oxford Advanced Dictionary at page 1198 as “happening or done quickly and unexpectedly.

Therefore, before the National working Committee of the PDP acts on behalf of the National Executive Committee under Article 12.63(b) of the Party’s Constitution, the event leading to the exercise of that power must not only be serious and dangerous needing immediate action, the event must have also happened quickly and unexpectedly. Let us now gauge this definition with the facts of this case.

In the press statement by the National Working Committee signed by Professor Rufai Ahmed Alkali, the resolution of the Committee to dissolve the Plateau State chapter of the party was reached after extensive consultations with stakeholders of ie Party in Plateau State. Extensive consultation connotes that the crisis in the Party leading to the dissolution of the State Executive Committee did not occur suddenly and unexpectedly. Further to this is exhibit “B” annexed to the counter affidavit of Uluba Mai Jawur in opposition to the originating summons. In that exhibit “B” which is the Amended Writ of Summons and Amended Joint Statement of claim in suit No. FHC/J/CS/16/2009 between Professor Dakum Shown and 28 Others Vs. Chief Emmanuel T. Mangni and 26 others, the alleged factionalization of the Party leading to the institution of that suit occurred in February, 2009. See Paragraph 17 of the Amended Joint statement of claim in that suit. Thirdly, the Press Release Jointly issued by Alhaji Yusuf Ayitogo and Johnson Kumbut Paah, Zonal Chairman (North Central) and Zonal Secretary (North Central) respectively, dated 27th February, 2009, in which they warned Chief Emmanuel Mangni and his group from factionalizing the party in Plateau State is another pointer to the fact that there is nothing sudden and unexpected in the crisis in the Plateau State chapter of the PDP. The National organs of the Party knew all along at least since February, 2009, about the happening in its Plateau State chapter, therefore when the National Working Committee dissolved the State Executive Committee of the Party on 12/08/09, six months after they knew of the alleged crisis, there was no emergency in existence. An event that happened in February, 2009, cannot be qualified as an emergency in August, 2009, six months thereafter. For the avoidance of any doubt the Press Release by the Zonal Chairman and Zonal Secretary referred to above, is annexed as exhibit “AA” to the further affidavit in support of the originating summons.

Now, Article 12.74 of the Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party made a mandatory provision that the National Executive Committee shall meet at least once every quarter. From the time the crisis in Plateau State chapter erupted leading to a Court case at the Federal High Court and the time the National Working Committee purported to have acted under emergency, the National Executive Committee ought to have met at least twice in compliance with the mandatory provision in its Constitution. Such meetings would have afforded the National Executive Committee the opportunity to handle the Plateau situation. The National Executive Committee reneged in abiding by the mandatory tenor of its responsibility only for the National Working Committee to claim emergency when in fact it does not exist in view of my analysis of the situation above. All that I have analysed supra is done on the assumption that Article 12.72 (e) of the PDP Constitution has not been struck down.

In conclusion, I hold that the National Working Committee of the PDF has no power under its Constitution to dissolve the Plateau State Executive Committee, as it did, in the absence of emergency, assuming Article 12.72 (e) of the Constitution is good law. Consequently, I resolve issue two formulated by the 13th – 19th defendants and questions 6, 7, 8 and 9 in the originating summons in favour of the plaintiffs.

In the counter affidavit of the 1st – 12th . 20th and 21st defendants the deponent stated that the deposition in paragraph 4 of the affidavit in support of the originating summons to the effect that the plaintiffs were elected into office on 28/02/2008 is not true, in that the said election was not conducted in accordance with both the 1999 Constitution and the Constitution of the PDP. He also deposed to the fact that there were two parallel elections leading to the Independent National Electoral Commission writing to the PDP on the need to have a rescheduled congress as evidenced by exhibits “Al”, “A2″ and “A3″ attached to the counter-affidavit. In the further affidavit in support of the summons, the plaintiffs annexed exhibits BB,

/

CC, DD, EE, FF,GG,HH, JJ and KK which are various correspondences and invitations from the National Headquarters of the PDP in Abuja to the Ist Plaintiff, addressed in all the correspondences as Plateau State Chairman of the Party. The dates of these exhibits ranges form 8th October, 2008 to 16th July, 2009 less than four weeks before the dissolution of the State Executive by the National Working Committee. In view of these facts which are backed by uncontroverted documents emanating from the defendants, can it be rightly said that there were two parallel elections held on 28/02/08? Can the deposition by Uluba Mai Jawur in the counter affidavit stand the test of veracity? My answer to these two questions is an. emphatic no. But assuming that there were two parallel elections into the various offices of the Plateau State chapter of the PDP as deposed to in that counter affidavit, it is clear that the National Headquarters of the Party only recognized the Executive Committee led by Professor Dakum Shown, taking into account the numerous correspondences annexed as exhibits “BB” – “JJ” to the further affidavit.

With reference to exhibits Al, A2 and A3 to the counter affidavit, which are reports of congresses of the Peoples Democratic Party compiled and sent to the Party by INEC, exhibit “MM” attached to the further affidavit of Professor Dakum Shown made nonsense of those reports in exhibits Al, A2, and A3. The INEC reports had it that disregard for basic democratic principles and relevant provisions of the law were noted by it in the PDP congresses of some States including Plateau State. INEC therefore requested for rescheduled congresses in the affected States. The final report which is exhibit A3 is dated 23/07/2008. After that report and for more than one year the National Headquarters of the Party continued to accord recognition to the Executive Committee headed by Professor Shown as attested to by the correspondences referred to above. That is not all, the Independent National Electoral-commission 4n an Amended Statement of defence filed by it at the Federal High Court, Jos. (exhibit “MM” annexed to the further affidavit), averred at paragraph 14 thereof as follows:-

“The 26th defendant avers that as far as PDP Excos are concerned in Plateau State only the lrt – 29th plaintiffs are recognized and states further that the l” – 25th defendants are unknown to the 26th defendant.

The 26th defendant in that suit is the Independent National Electoral Commission. The 29 plaintiffs are Professor Dakum Shown and others while the 1st – 25th defendants are Chief Emmanuel T. Mangni and others. This document or pleading is dated 15th July, 2009 and therefore later in time than exhibits Al, A2, and A3, the last of which was written in July, 2008. With this Amended Statement of defence filed by INEC in July, 2009, the defendants are estopped from contending as they did, that their Congress in Plateau State was inconclusive and therefore had to be rescheduled. In the circumstance of the several glaring untruths in the -affidavit of Uluba Mai Jawur I am inclined not to believe him. However, I decline the invitation by Prince Fagbemi in his further address to declare the deponent a liar and not to believe his subsequent testimony in Court in line with the dictum of the Supreme Court in Abgomeji Vs. Bakare (1998) 9 NWLR (pt. 564) 1 at 19.1 took this position because the deponent did not claim to have deposed to facts within his knowledge, but facts supplied to him by Chief Olusola oke, the National Legal Adviser of the PDP.

On questions 3, 4 and 5 in the originating summons which deals with the concept of vested interest and in line with my findings that the plaintiffs are entitled to remain in office for a period of 4 years unless they are removed by the Party members who elected them in protection of the vested right which they acquired by virtue of their election, I hold without more that questions 3,4 and 5 ought to be and are hereby resolved in favour of the plaintiffs.

I will attempt to resolve question 10 with reference to issue of hearing and/or fair hearing. The plaintiffs deposed to the fact that they were neither consulted nor accused of any wrongdoing before the State Executive Committee was dissolved.

The first plaintiff swore to the fact that even if they were accused of any wrong doing, which he denied, they were not giving a fair hearing. The defendants in then- respective counter-affidavits stated that they consulted widely with stakeholders of the Party in Plateau State before the dissolution was effected. Apart from this mere deposition, no scintilla of evidence in form of the categories of stakeholders that were consulted or minutes of meetings of the consultations and dates were annexed to the counter-affidavit. The defendants did not even pretend that they consulted the plaintiffs. Even the Press Statement signed by Professor Alkali in which the Plateau State Executive Committee of the PDP was dissolved did not state that the plaintiffs were either consulted or giving a hearing not to talk of fair hearing before the Executive Committee for which they are members was dissolved. Furthermore, the deposition by the plaintiffs that they were not giving a fair hearing was not countered by the defendants. This fact is deemed admitted by the defendants requiring no further proof. See-

DAGGASH VS. BULAMA

(2004) 14 NWLR (Pt. 892) 144 at 234.

The requirement for fair hearing has long ago become a universal phenomenon in dispute resolution of any land even under Military dictatorships. It is one of the

Fundamental human rights acknowledged in all civilized societies the World over. Nigeria has accorded this right recognition in section 36 (1) of the Constitution in addition to domesticating the African Charter on Peoples and human rights. Therefore in the determination of the Plaintiffs’ vested right in the leadership of the Plateau State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, the Plaintiffs must be giving fair hearing otherwise any such determination will be ineffectual. On this score also, I hold that the dissolution of the Plateau State Executive Committee of the PDP by the National Working Committee of the Party, having been done without according the plaintiffs’ fair hearing is ineffectual. In the circumstance, I also resolve the last question, i.e., question 10 on the originating summons in favour of the plaintiffs.

It is apposite at this point to consider the affidavit of service sworn to by Omosanya Popoola on behalf of the plaintiffs. Omosanya Popoola, a lawyer in the Law firm of Lateef O. Fagbemi, SAN & Co Abuja swore to an affidavit of service on 8/01/2010 in which he stated that upon the filing of this suit on 14/08/09, L.O. Fagbemi, SAN, counsel for the Plaintiffs wrote a letter to the National Legal Adviser of the Peoples Democratic Party intimating him of the institution of this suit along with motion exparte and on notice, for injunctive reliefs. The stamped copies of the originating summons and the two motions together with all the affidavits and written addresses were served on Chief Olusola Oke, the National Legal Adviser of the PDP by the deponent, Omosanya Popoola at the PDF National Secretariat in Abuja on 17/08/09 at 9.25am, Also served on Chief Oke is the letter from L. O. Fagbemi, SAN, dated 14/08/09. According to the deponent, Chief Olusola Oke personally collected the processes from him before asking one Ndam Nanchang, a Clerical Assistant at the PDP National Headquarters to sign the acknowledgement copy on his behalf. The acknowledgement copies of the processes served on Chief Olusola Oke are exhibited to the affidavit of service and marked exhibit “A”.

The facts above were also rehash by Professor Dakum Shown in the further affidavit sworn to by him. Neither the 1st – 12th, 20th and 21st defendants nor the 13th – 19th defendants reacted to the affidavit of service sworn to by Omosanya Popoola. Even Chief Olusola Oke who is the 6th defendant in this case and on whom the solicitor’s letter and the stamped copies of the Court processes were served did not refute the allegation of fact in the affidavit of Omosanya Popoola. The law on this point is that the uncontroverted facts deposed to by Omosanya Popoola are deemed admitted by all the defendants as the facts are not unreasonable nor are they lacking in bona fides. I find support for this view in -

EJIKEME VS. IBEKWE (1994)

7 NWLR (Pt. 514) 592 at 598.

where the court of appeal held as follows:-

“Averments in an affidavit which are not challenged or contradicted and which by their nature are not incredible ought to be accepted by the Court and acted upon. In this regard, the court has no option.”

Up till the time of writing this judgment none of the defendants filed any process in opposition to that affidavit of service which was duly served on all of them through their respective counsel.

The essence of the solicitor’s letter is to intimate the defendants through the National Legal Adviser of the PDP of the pendency of this suit and the two motions for injunction to restrain the defendants, among other things, from inaugurating the Caretaker Committee which was scheduled for the 18th August, 2009, according to the Press Statement of Professor Alkali on the matter.

From the uncontroverted facts in the affidavit of Omosanya Popoola it is beyond doubt that the 1st – 12th 20th and 21st defendants had fore knowledge of this suit and the motions for injunction before they proceeded to inaugurate the 13th – 19th defendants as members of the Caretaker Committee of the Plateau State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party. The conduct of the 1st – 12th, 20th and 21st defendants is clearly aimed at pre-empting the decision of this Court and rendering the Court impotent. This is a most reprehensible conduct emanating as it were from the Leadership of a Political Party that professes, preaches and lay claim to the ideals of democracy and rule of law. The Nigerian Public expects a more civilized, honest and transparent behavior in the conduct of the affairs of Political Parties if our nascent democracy is to be developed and sustained. There must be decency and respect for human rights and democratic principles in the practice of politics by Nigerian politicians if the Country is to make any meaningful progress politically and developmentally.

The action of the 1st – 12th. 20th and 21st defendants in inaugurating the 13th – 19th defendants after they became aware of the pendency of this suit and the motions for injunction is an impunity that they cannot be allowed to get away with it. This Court cannot allow itself to be made to look like a lame duck. It has the capacity .and indeed the capability to undo what was done in flagrant disregard of its process which got to the knowledge of the recalcitrant party before the said process was flagrantly disregarded.

Having resolved all the ten issues in the originating summons in favour of the plaintiffs, I hereby grant all the twelve reliefs claimed by the Plaintiffs by making the following declarations and orders:

I DECLARE;

(1) That in view of the combined effect of Sections 221, 222 and 223 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 which, among other things guarantee, recognize and prescribe the mode of electing and controlling political parties only on democratic principles or bases, Article 12.72(e) of the Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party (hereinafter referred to as “PDP”) is null and void for being inconsistent for empowering the National Executive Committee (hereinafter referred to as “NEC of PDP” and or the National Working. Committee (hereinafter referred to as “NWC of PDP” of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the PDP itself to dissolve a democratically elected Plateau State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Executive;

(2) That having regard to Section 223(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 and Article 14.1 of the Constitution of PDP which guarantee a right to hold office for a term of four (4) years certain and under which the 1st to 6th plaintiffs came into office on the 22nd May, 2008, the NWC of PDP, the NEC itself cannot dissolve the Plateau State Executive Committee of the 21st Defendant;

(3) That members of the Plateau State Executive Committee of the PDP have each acquired a vested interest by virtue of their being elected and or sworn in and or constituted as executive members of the Plateau State PDP.

(4)That having acquired vested interest as members of the Plateau State Executive Committee of PDP, the NWC of PDP and or the PDP itself cannot dissolve the State executive committee of the PDP without complying with the provisions of section 36 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 and African Charter on Human and People’s Right;

(5)That the NWC of PDP cannot rely on the purported result of extensive consultations with stake holders of PDP in Plateau State to dissolve the Plateau State Executive Committee of the PDP without specifically confronting or affording the plaintiffs individually and collectively the opportunity to react to the views and or allegations if any, embedded in the alleged consultation before proceeding to dissolve the Plateau State Committee of PDP;

(6)That having regard to Article 12.72 (e) of the Constitution of the PDP made pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, the 1st to 12th Defendants, acting for themselves and or on behalf of the NWC of PDP cannot unilaterally dissolve the Plateau State Executive Committee of the PDP headed by the 1st Plaintiff.

(7)That the 1st to 12th Defendants acting for themselves and or on behalf of the NWC of the PDP are not empowered under the Constitution of the PDP to appoint, constitute and/or inaugurate the 13th to 19tb Defendants as a Caretaker Committee or by whatever name called to run the affairs of the PDP in Plateau State;

(8)That in view of the provisions of Article 12.63 (b) of the PDP’s Constitution, the 1st to 12th Defendants, acting for themselves and or on behalf of the NWC of PDP cannot exercise the power of dissolution in the absence of an emergency.

(9) That the 1st to the 12th Defendants acting for themselves and or on behalf of the NWC of PDP cannot dissolve the Plateau State Executive of the PDP indefinitely or pending an unscheduled State Congress to elect a new Executive Committee having regard to Article 12.72(e) of the Constitution of PDP;

(10)That having regards to Article 12.63(b) of PDP’s Constitution, that purported dissolution of the Plateau State Executive Committee of PDP by the 1st to 12th Defendants acting for themselves and or on behalf of the NWC of PDP or even the PDP without more is of no consequence or effect;

(11)1 ORDER THAT the 13th to 19th Defendants whether by themselves, their agents, privies or assigns, or anybody acting through them under any name are hereby restrained from parading themselves or in any way acting as the Caretaker Committee or members thereof of the Plateau State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party;

(12)1 ORDER THAT the 1st to 12th and 20th to 21st Defendants whether by themselves, their agents, privies or allied or anybody acting through them under any guise are hereby restrained from in any way implementing or giving effect to the purported resolution of the 1st to 12th and 20th to 21st Defendants made at their meeting held on Wednesday 12th August, 2009 purporting to dissolve the Plateau State Executive Committee of Peoples Democratic Party.”

I also make a consequential order that the purported inauguration of the 13th – 19th defendants as members of the Caretaker Committee of the Plateau State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party is hereby set aside.

In view of the nature of this suit and the parties therein I make no order as to cost.


STICE M. I. SIRAJO

JUDGE

23/4/2010

Appearances:

Prince L. O. Fagbemi, SAN, with O. I. Olorundare, SAN, O. Makanjuola Esq. L. E. Anyia Esq., K. O. Fagbemi Esq., Joshua John Esq., A. M. Umar (Mrs.), P. A. Ubeng (Mrs.), B. A. Onun Esq., A. M. Maikimi (Miss), P. D. Shagaya (Mrs.) and D. P. Dusu for all the Plaintiffs.

Simon Mom holding the brief of J. K. Gadzama, SAN, for the 1st – 12th, 20th and 21st defendants.

G. S. Pwul with C. E. Atsenokhai Esq. R. F. Dimka Esq. A. O. Adekoya and B. N. Pofi for the 13th – 19th defendants.