By: Sunday Oyewole
There was confusion in Abuja on Friday following the ruling of Justice Elvis Chukwu of the Federal High Court, Abuja, that the warring factions in the ruling PDP should maintain ‘status quo ante bellum” pending the determination of ‘motion on notice.
The Bamanga Tukur-led PDP had prayed that the court grant exparte injunction restraining the Abubakar Baraje-led ‘New PDP’ from functioning and INEC from recognizing the faction.
After listening to the prayers of the Counsel to Tukur-led PDP, Tochukwu Onwugbufor (SAN), Justice Chukwu ruled thus, , “although I’m not afraid of granting an exparte order especially when it borders on issues capable of creating anarchy, I owe a duty to maintain a balance. In the circumstance, what I want to do is to order that they be put on notice.
“Both parties are to maintain status quo ante bellum pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice. The time for hearing all the processes in this suit is to be abridged to four days.”
Mr. Tukur, immediately after the ruling issued a statement hailing it as victory for his faction, calling on party members to remain loyal.
Consequent upon this, Police moved to the secretariat of the New PDP located on Number 4, Oyi Crescent, Maitama District, Abuja and sealed it off. When Prompt News Online visited the secretariat on Saturday, our correspondent saw a combined team of regular and mobile police stationed at the entrance to the crescent.
Also, an Amoured Personnel Carrier (APC) was seen stationed there while some policemen were seated under a canopy in front of the two-storey building. The secretariat is not yet open as the building is undergoing renovation.
Reacting to this development, the ‘New PDP’ faction condemned the sealing off of its secretariat, describing it as height of impunity. A statement issued by its National Secretary, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, reads in part, “Security forces were mobilised to seal off the office on Saturday based on a non-existent court injunction which the Tukur faction claimed to have obtained on Friday.”
“The whole world knows that Justice E. Chukwu of the Federal High Court, Abuja on Friday refused to grant Alhaji Bamanga Tukur’s application for an ex parte injunction against our party’s executive. The Judge asked parties to maintain the status quo.
His judgment was a reinforcement of an early order of the Lagos High Court which also asked parties to maintain the status quo. Now, should Nigerians conclude that Tukur’s interpretation of status quo is this crude display of naked power and undisguised impunity?”
“We are not at all surprised at this occurrence given the fact that Tukur issued a statement on Friday evening deliberately seeking to mislead the media and the public that Justice Chukwu granted him an injunction against us. We are happy that the ever vigilant Nigerian press ignored him and his falsehood.
“Now, he is not only willfully disobeying the various courts which have made pronouncements on this matter, he is spicing up his love for impunity with this reckless misuse of state power by misleading the police.” We call for an immediate removal of the siege to our secretariat.
“We call on the Inspector General of police to order the immediate removal of his men from our office. Doing so, we believe, will serve the interest of justice, rule of law and democracy. Nigeria is a country ruled by law and not by might and force.”We hasten to say that if this move is aimed at breaking our spirit, that goal is definitely off the mark. We are determined to rescue our party from the lawlessness and crass arrogance that have defined the character of the Tukur leadership since inception.
“Our party needs that deliverance, its members deserve the change we have brought into it,” the statement said.
On its part, Tukur-led PDP insisted the Friday ruling affirmed the leadership of the party under Bamanga Tukur, saying ‘status quo ante bellum’ means the Baraje faction should suspend all activities pending determination of the motion on notice.
The National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh’s statement hailing the ruling reads, “Our attention has been drawn to reports by a section of the media erroneously suggesting that the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja did not accede to our prayer that INEC should not recognize the so-called new PDP led by Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje.
“For the avoidance doubt, the position of the Federal HIgh Court is clear. By ordering that the two parties maintain status quo ante bellum, the court has clearly ordered the Baraje group to stop all its activities including operating a secretariat while it affirmed the leadership of the PDP under Alhaji Bamanga Tukur.
“By the order of the court, no person is authorized by law to open a secretariat or operate under the name, colour and flag of the PDP other than the one led by Alhaji Bamanaga Tukur. The sealing off of the secretariat opened by the Baraje group under the name, colour and flag of the PDP is therefore in order and in line with the law”.