The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Tuesday petitioned a Federal High Court Judge, Justice Emmanuel Adema Obile over his role against its primary election fixed for Thursday, 25th June.
A member of the House of Representatives and governorship aspirant on the platform of the PDP, Hon. Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, had in a motion prayed the court to bar Edo state governor, Godwin Obaseki from contesting in the primary election, citing many reasons including the time-frame in which the governor has been a member of the PDP.
As a result, Justice Obile, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, asked that defendants, Obaseki, PDP and others be served via newspaper publication and adjourned for Wednesday, 24th June.
In a reaction, PDP in a letter dated 23rd June, 2020, addressed to the Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman of the National Judicial Council, Mohammed Tanko signed by Dakzel Longi Shamnas, titled “Petition Against Hon. Justice E. A. Obile of the Port Harcourt Division of the Federal High Court in Respect of Suit No: FHC/PH/CS/6 noted that “the Plaintiff in the above suit at the behest of some external forces has surreptitiously filed an action at the Port Harcourt Division of the Federal High Court seeking to prevent the said Governor Obaseki from participating in the said election.
In respect of the said suit, we note that Hon. Justice E. A. Obile did not approach the matter with circumspection. His Lordship thereby played into hands of unscrupulous politicians, notwithstanding the following red flags:
The letter read in part: “The subject matter of the suit is the gubernatorial primary election of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), therefore the PDP is the principal defendant as it would be most affected by any order to be made by the court. The headquarters of the PDP is in Abuja.
The screening of candidates for the gubernatorial election which the Plaintiff is complaining of in the suit took place in Abuja. The headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is in Abuja. On the other hand, the primary election is to take place in Benin City; and the 8th Defendant (Governor Godwin Obaseki) sought to be restrained from contesting the primary election is also based in Benin City. Thus, there is no nexus between the facts of this matter and Port Harcourt.
“The Plaintiff lives in Benin City. His address in the affidavits in support of his motions for substituted service and interim injunction is 14 Adesogbe Road, Benin City, Edo State. But he went to Port Harcourt to file the suit when there is a Federal Hugh Court in Benin City. This should have made Hon. Justice E.A. Obile to be cautious.
“The Headquarters of the PDP is not in Port Harcourt and the Rivers State Chapter of the PDP is not involved in conducting the primary election in issue, so the Port Harcourt Division of Federal High Court has no connection whatsoever with the subject matter of this suit but just chosen to make it impossible for the Defendants to have an appearance before the court and to have a fair hearing in the matter.”
Accordingly, the PDP advised the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court to “reassign the suit to a Judge of the Federal High Court sitting at the Abuja Division of the Court; and immediate disciplinary action be commenced against Hon. Justice E.A. Obile of the Port Harcourt Division of the Federal High Court for invidiously assuming jurisdiction and taking sides in the political conflict in Edo State with a view to disrupting the political process”.