The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has filed a petition against Justice Emmanuel Obile of the Port Harcourt Division of the Federal High Court.
The petition, which was dated June 23, was addressed to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Tanko Muhammad and signed by Dakzel Longii Shamnas.
The petition was a fallout of an alleged order given by Justice Obile on Monday barring Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki from participating in the PDP’s governorship election primary slated for June 25.
The suit was filed against Obaseki by Mr Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, one of the PDP aspirants jostling for the party’s ticket. The leadership of the PDP and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were also joined as co-defendants.
The petitioner stated that Justice Obile did not approach the matter with circumspection, stressing that he ought not to have entertained the matter in the first place.
“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 the hands of unscrupulous politicians.
“Your Lordship may wish to take judicial notice of the fact following apparently intractable intra-party squabble in the All Progressives Congress (APC), Governor Godwin Obaseki recently defected to the PDP to pursue his political ambition of re-election as the governor of Edo State for a second term of office.
“The primary election of the PDP for the forthcoming governorship election has been scheduled to hold on the 25″‘ day of June 2020 in Benin City, the capital of Edo State.
“The subject matter of the suit is the governorship 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 Obaseku) 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. These facts ought to have been taken into consideration by Hon. Justice E.A. Obile in Iine with the dictates of the extant practice and procedure of the Federal High Court in volatile pre-election matters such as the instant case.
“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.
“Hon. Justice E. A. Obile while going through originating processes before assuming jurisdiction should have recognized that the Port Harcourt Division of Federal High Court was chosen to make it impossible for the Defendants to appear before the court and to have tall hearing in the matter.
“This is reinforced by the applications for abridgment of time and substituted service as well as the time-bound nature of the primary election.
“The intention to deny the Defendants fair hearing is also borne out of the fact that the Plaintiff applied for and was granted substituted service of the processes of the court as well as abridgment of time.
“The orders were made on the 22“ day of June 2020, the primary election is coming up on the 25th day of June, 2020 and the 30 days for the Defendants to respond to suit was abridged to two days, thus the matter is coming up on the 24th day of June, 2020, while the primary election is holding on the 25th day of June 2020 leaving only one day for parties to take further legal steps. The orders were made by a Judge of the Federal High Court who should be cognizant of its implications.”
The party sought immediate disciplinary measure against Justice Obile for invidiously assuming jurisdiction and “taking sides” in the political conflict in Edo State with a view to disrupting the political process.