By Ben Agande
ABUJA—Worried by the conflicting judgements and orders by court of coordinate jurisdiction on one matter, the former chairman of Peoples Democratic Party, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff and his supporters have petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari and the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed to intervene in order to save the judiciary from losing its credibility.
Former National Secretary of the party, Prof. Wale Oladipo, who disclosed this in a statement issued in Abuja yesterday, warned that the judiciary was in imminent danger of being infiltrated and controlled by politicians.
According to him, incidences in the judiciary have assumed a disturbing dimension because even when parties are served court processes and have joined issues, they rush to another court where they get pliable judges to grant them exparte and conflicting orders and judgments within days.
“This ugly trend began with the Hon. Justice Mohammed Liman of the Port Harcourt Division of the Federal High Court.
‘’He granted an exparte order in respect of the same issues and parties on the 23rd of May, 2016, twelve (12) days after the Federal High Court, Lagos, had taken over the matter and made orders which forbids the PDP from “conducting any election into the offices of the National Chairman, National Secretary and National Auditor occupied by the 1st (Sheriff), 2nd (Prof. Wale Oladipo) and 3rd Plaintiffs (Alhaji Fatai Adeyanju) respectively pending the determination of the substantive suit.
‘’The same court granted an order restraining the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, from monitoring and/or recognizing the conduct of any election by the 2ndDefendant/Respondent, PDP, into the offices of the National Chairman, National Secretary and National Auditor occupied by the 1st (Sheriff), 2nd (Prof. Wale Oladipo) and 3rd Plaintiffs (Alhaji Fatai Adeyanju) respectively pending the determination of the substantive suit,” he said.
Prof. Oladipo opined that although the undercurrents of the matter had been chronicled in a petition sent to the CJN and the National Judicial Council, NJC, for appropriate disciplinary action, it was disturbing that the same Justice Liman, who is the most senior and the Administrative Judge in the Port Harcourt Division of the court, had not relented in his questionable actions.
He added: “While in the background, he is now using Justice Ibrahim Watila, one of his brother judges in the Port Harcourt Division, to perpetrate some dastardly acts.
‘’Just like it was before and after the botched May 21, 2016, National Convention, the same parties and issues that are already before the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court are being taken to the Port Harcourt Division for adjudication.
“The court, as presided over by Justice Watila, granted an exparte order, converted it to a Motion on Notice through substituted service, heard the matter within 72 hours and delivered judgment within a week without affording those who wished to be joined as parties the opportunity to do so.”
He urged the President and the CJN to prevail on the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, to wade into the situation as the Head of the court and save the judiciary and democracy from avoidable crisis and embarrassment.