Wednesday, 5 August 2020

State Congres: Tension grips Ayade over judge withdrawal, seeks another court Injunction

Governor Ben Ayade in deep thoughts during one of the PDP congresses 

As the battle for the soul of The People's Democratic Party, PDP in Cross River takes different dimensions by the day, recent report confirms that Justice Elias Abua, sitting in a vacation court in Calabar has withdrawn from the case challenging the list of the authentic ward and local government executive committees in the recently conducted ward and local governments Congress in Cross River state.

The withdrawal has created tension within the group and other party members, fuelling speculation that the congress might not hold should the party refuse to do the governor's group bidding.

According to reports reaching our newsroom, in it's bid to scuttle the pending Cross River state congress, the governor's faction has approached another vacation court at Ikom to secure an order of interlocutory injunction

Recall that the ward executive committee members were inaugurated in the state on Thursday, April 30, 2020, by a Notary Public, Okimasi Ojong, Esq, in line with the provisions of Section 65 of the PDP Constitution as amended in 2017.

Ayade's faction had headed to court to challenge the National Working Committee, NWC, of PDP,  directive to inaugurate the ward and local government executive committees.

Not satisfied with the arrangement, the governor's faction in collaboration with some party members including Messers  Pastor Otu Edet Marshall, Mr. Terence Orok, Raphael Stephen Ntui and Henry Ekpenyong Edem (all applicants) claimed they emerged in the ward congress conducted by Ntufam Edim Inok-led state executive committee but were not inaugurated. 

They, therefore, sued the PDP, the National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, National Organising Secretary, Col. Austin Akobundu (rtd), and state chairman of PDP, Ntufam Edim Inok in a Suit No HC/178/2020 and dated July 2, 2020.

The claimants prayed the court to restrain the national leadership of the party from acting on any list except one submitted by the Cross River PDP in relation to the recently conducted ward and local government congresses in the state.

But after listening to the motion, Justice Elias Abua in a volte-face withdrew from the case and refused to grant the claimants prayers that the court restrains the national leadership of the party from acting on any list except one submitted by the Edim Ink-led state executive in relation to the March  7 and 21, 2020  ward and local government congresses in the state.

Making the pronouncement during a vacation court sitting at Calabar High Court on Wednesday, Justice Abua refused to grant an interlocutory injunction and returned the case file to the Acting Chief Judge of the State, Justice Maurice Eneji, for re-assignment.

In his ruling, Justice Abua said: "I am a man of integrity and has worked hard to earn my reputation and would not want to spoil it for any reason. I would return the case file to the Acting Chief Judge for re-assignment."

Commending the presiding judge, the Counsel to PDP, Mba Ukweni, SAN, said what transpired at the court was an indication that a common man can still obtain justice at courts.

Doffing off his hat for Justice Abua, he said: "I have known him as a  man of honor and integrity. What he did today was true to his character because justice is rooted in confidence. 

"So, once a party to a dispute doesn't have confidence in the adjudicator, it becomes something else. I commend him for not wanting to dent his reputation by doing the honorable thing which honorable judges do in matters like this."

Ukweni explained that there was no need for the litigation at this time of the legal year when courts are on vacation, explaining that the case was not an urgent one and therefore ought not to have been brought before a vacation judge in the first place.

He further argued that it would have been a travesty of justice for anybody to try and obtain an injunction at this auspicious time when the state congress is holding on Saturday, August 8, 2020.