A suit filed by the Peoples Democratic Party in a bid to remove the five governors who defected to the All Progressives Congress suffered another setback on Monday as a scheduled hearing could not hold due to the absence of the trial judge.
Also, lawyers of the PDP and the defected governors – Alhaji Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto), Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano) and Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara) – were unable to agree on the next adjourned date, a development which raised uncertainty over further proceedings in the suit.
At the end of proceedings during the last sitting in the matter on February 6, Justice Gabriel Kolawole had directed the parties to return by 11.00am on Monday, February 24.
However, as a result of some other official engagement being attended to by the judge, the matter was further postponed to 2.00pm on Monday.
But when the various lawyers converged in the courtroom, it was discovered that the hearing could not go ahead as the judge was still busy.
As a result of the development, court officials asked the two parties (PDP and the defected governors) to choose another date for the hearing.
PDP, through its counsel, Dr. Alex Izinyon (SAN), chose Wednesday, February 26, but the lawyers of the five governors disagreed, opting to return on a later date.
The disagreement could not be resolved as the two parties could not find a common ground.
Although the defected governors’ lawyers refused to yield, Izinyon said the PDP legal team would be in court on Wednesday (tomorrow).
The stalemate amounted to another setback in PDP’s bid to retrieve what it believes to be its governorship tickets from the five governors who joined APC after initially forming the ‘New PDP’, following a walk-out they staged at the PDP national convention at the Eagle Square in Abuja.
It would be recalled that hearing in the suit was initially stalled on February 6 as a result of confusion over the address of the national secretariat of the APC.
The five governors were not represented in court at the commencement of proceedings in the suit on January 27, when Justice Kolawole fixed February 6 for hearing.
The judge directed that the hearing notice should be pasted at the national secretariat of the APC as a means of substituted service on the five governors, in addition to its advertisement in two national dailies.
However, although the five governors were represented by lawyers when the suit came up on February 6, the court could not hear the matter because, while the order issued by the judge for service of the hearing notice on the governors indicated No. 6 Guinea Bissau Street, Wuse Zone 6 as the address of the APC national secretariat, the service was done at a different address – No. 40 Blantyre Street in Wuse 2, the location of the party’s new office.
Disagreement over the development stalled the scheduled hearing.
Although PDP lawyer, Izinyon, explained that the court bailiff, who executed the service, initially called at No. 6 Guinea Bissau Street, Wuse Zone 6 – APC’s address as at the time the court gave the order – only to see a note on the gate which explained that the party had moved shop to No. 40 Blantyre Street, Wuse 2, where he subsequently pasted the hearing notice, the lawyers of the defected governors insisted that the notice should be served at the old address.
They refused the judge’s request to receive the notice on behalf of their clients in the courtroom, and instead, filed a motion to challenge the service of the hearing notice.
PDP was scheduled to respond to the motion on Monday but the hearing failed to hold.
In the suit, PDP is asking the Abuja FHC to sack the five governors on the grounds that by their defection, they have forfeited their offices to the party, on which platform they were elected.
In the event that the governors are sacked from office, PDP wants the court to order their deputy governors, or the speakers of the states’ houses of assembly, to assume their positions.
PDP, in the same vein, wants the court to make an order mandating and directing the houses of assembly of Adamawa, Rivers, Sokoto, Kano and Kwara states to commence impeachment proceedings against the governors.