A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Apo, Abuja, Wednesday voided the expulsion of Senator Buruji Kashamu and the Ogun State Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Adebayo Dayo.
Justice Valentine Ashi, in a ruling, held that purported expulsion was unlawful because it was done in flagrant disobedience of a subsisting order of the court made on December 7, 2017, which was restated on January 9, 2018, directing parties not to do anything to jeopardise the hearing of the pending case.
The court had, while restating its earlier order on January 9, 2018 added that the PDP must not carry out any disciplinary action against the defendants without first, having recourse to the court.
Justice Ashi, who nullified the expulsion, also set aside the PDP’s letter, dated August 1, 2018 conveying the expulsion to Kashamu and Dayo.
The judge ordered PDP’s Chairman, Uche Secondus to, within 48 hours of his receipt of the court order, to show cause why the court’s disciplinary measure should not be deployed against him for aiding his party to violate a valid court order.
In the alternative, why he (Secondus) should not be referred to the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice for prosecution, before the Magistrates’ Court of the FCT, for obstructing the course of justice.
The ruling was on an application filed by Kashamu and Dayo, marked: M/8696/2018, which was argued for the applicants by their lawyer, Charles Ndukwe.
The PDP had, on December 4, 2017, sued Kashamu and four other and sought among others, order restraining Kashamu and the other defendants from preventing it from carrying out its legitimate activities, including its national convention slated for December 9 and 10, 2017.
On December 7, 2017, the court granted PDP’s ex-parte motion and ordered parties to maintain the status quo, by refraining from doing anything that is capable of jeopardising the hearing of the pending interlocutory application and the substantive suit.
Sued with Kashamu were Chief Makanjuola Ogundipe (PDP South West leader), Alhaji Adewale Adeyanju, Engr Adebayo Dayo and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
On January 9, 2018 the court, upon complaint by Kashamu and Dayo, the court set aside their suspension by the PDP. The court said the suspension was carried out by the PDP while the case was still pending.
The court proceeded to restrain the PDP from taking any disciplinary action against Kashamu and others without first making recourse to the court and fixed further hearing in the case till a later date.
Rather than prosecute its case,marked: FCT/HC/CV/0303/2017 to conclusion, the PDP abandoned it, following which the court, on May 2, 2018 struck it out and set down the defendants’ counter-claim for hearing on November 6, 2018.
On July 24, 2018 the PDP announced the expulsion of Kashamu and Dayo, which was contained in the party’s letter of August 1, 2018 which it served on the two.
The party’s decision informed the application by Kashamu and Dayo, on which Justice Ashi’s ruling of Wednesday was based.
In the ruling, the judge agreed with the applicants (Kashamu and Dayo) that the order made on December 7, 2017 and restated on January 9, 2018 was still binding on the plaintiff (PDP) and all parties despite its (PDP’s) abandoning of the case, which led to it being struck out.
Justice Ashi noted that even when the main suit was struck out, the counter-claim filed by Kashamu and other defendants was still pending.
The judge rejected PDP’s objection to the suit and held that the suit Kashamu filed against the party before the Federal High Court, Abuja was different from the one before his court.
He noted that not only are the parties in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/1254/2017 and the reliefs sought are different.
Justice Ashi said: “In my view, the plaintiff/respondent was in error to have expelled the defendants in utter disregard of the order of the court, including the directive that no disciplinary action should be taken against defendants while this suit subsists.
“The facts before me show that there has been a consistent pattern violation of the orders of this court by the respondent (PDP) with impunity.
“On the strength of the doctrine of lis pendens, it is wrong for the respondent to have acted this way against the applicants.
“It is trite law that where a party carries on an activity which is either out rightly by prohibited by a positive court order or where such party, after having due notice of a pending application brought against him to restrain him from so doing and he nevertheless goes ahead to do those very things that are either expressly prohibited by an order of court or in respect of which notice has been given, this court has the jurisdiction to undo what has been wrongly done and put parties back to the status quo.
“In my view, that is what ought to be the justice of this case. Accordingly, and in consequence, I make the following orders:
“The purported expulsion of the 1st and 4th defendants from the PDP as announced by the respondent in the media and the letter of expulsion addressed to them and two others, which letter is dated the 1st of August 2018, is hereby set aside and nullified as an act done in gross and wilful violation of an express order of court made on the 8th of December 2017 and the 9th of January 2018 directing parties to maintain the status quo and in particular, not to acrry out any disciplinary action against the applicants without first having recourse to this court.
“The said letter of expulsion of the applicants made by the respondent on the 1st of August 2018 is hereby set aside and declared null, void and of no effect, in that it was made in gross violation of the aforesaid subsisting orders of the court.
“The National Chairman of the respondent party herein (PDP) is hereby ordered to show cause by affidavit, within 48 hours of the service of this order on him, explaining while the court’s disciplinary measures should not be meted out on him on the account of the contemptuous and gross violation of this court’s order made on the 9th of January 2018 or explaining why this court should not refer his conduct to the Attorney General of the Federation for prosecution before the Chief Magistrate’s Court of the FCT for the offence of obstruction of the course of justice.
“The case is fixed for the hearing of the cause to be shown, as ordered herein on the 17th of October 2018.”