From Godwin Tsa, Abuja and Tony John, Port Harcourt

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has asked the Abuja division of the Federal High Court to stop the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from suspending or expelling him for anti-party. 

PDP, its National Executive Committee, National Working Committee (NWC), National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, National Secretary, Samuel Anyanwo, and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were named as respondents in a lawsuit brought before Justice J. K. Omotosho. 

The Rivers governor, in the suit before  Omotosho, prayed the court to declare that none of the respondents could take any disciplinary action on him, while the originating summons were being decided.

Already, the court has granted an order directing Wike to serve court processes on the 1st through 5th respondents in the lawsuit, specifically by posting all relevant court documents on the PDP national secretariat, Wadata Plaza, Wuse Zone 5, Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

The Rivers governor also asked the court to grant an order recognising his mode of serving the respondents the court processes as proper service. 

Wike is in a logger heads with the leadership of the PDP over his decision to withdraw support for the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.

He leads the G5 Governors that also has Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia) and Samuel Ortom (Benue) in a campaign against their party’s presidential candidate, Atiku following the refusal to  remove Ayu as chairman and replace him with a southerner. 

Already, the NWC of the party has  suspended Chimaroke Nnamani, former governor Ayo Fayose’s son, Oluwajomiloju, and other candidates of PDP in Enugu, Imo and Ekiti states.

The NWC also dissolved the Ekiti State executive committee which was populated by Fayose’s loyalists.

Meanwhile, Wike said the judiciary, the security agencies and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should be held responsible if the nation’s democracy failed.

He explained that there were already enabling relevant laws made by the legislature that should safeguard the practice of democracy, especially as it concerns the conduct of the general election.

Speaking while swearing in five Rivers State High Court judges and two Customary Court of Appeal judges, Wike said it was incumbent on those agencies to do their duties by not succumbing to pressure from politicians in defence of the law.

“I urge you to be firm, particularly this critical period when we are entering transition period. I believe the legislature has done its part by making the relevant laws to lead us. No law is permanent, no law is so perfect.

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“As time goes on, there will be amendment based on existing realities. But now, it is the duty of the judiciary, security agencies and INEC to save this country. If this country collapses in this transition period, Nigerians should hold the judiciary, security agencies and INEC responsible,” he said.

Governor Wike said INEC has all it takes to conduct a free, fair and credible election with the security agencies having such capacity to ensure the process is hitch free.

The governor stressed that even if any litigation arise therefrom, the judiciary should courageously adjudicate on such suits without fear, intimidation or favour.

He cited the dampening effect of incidences wherein judges give conflicting interpretations, security agencies putting up flimsy excuses concerning the enforcement of the law.

“If INEC wants to conduct a free and fair election, that they can do. If the security agencies want, there will be peace. And if judiciary want the law to be interpreted the way it is, that they can do. When that is done people will be happy, people will have confidence that we are getting it right.

“But, when you begin to see a lot of interpretations you begin to wonder where we are heading to. Interpretations not from lawyers, but from the court on the same subject matter.”

Wike recalled that after the 2015 general election, original INEC result sheets were tendered at the tribunal hearing that had authenticated correct serial numbers.

According to him, the implication is that INEC is a culprit and such incidence threatens democracy in Nigeria.

Addressing the newly sworn-in judges, Wike said a lot of responsibilities lie on their shoulders, particularly now that Nigeria is in transition from one administration to another.

He it is meaningless for them to know the law and lack the courage to firmly declare its intent and spirit glaringly over cases before them.

Governor Wike said their elevation to the bench will benefit the citizenry and the country.

He also said it will be so surprising to find judges in Rivers State being of lily heart, lacking in courage and unable to do what is right according to law.

The governor said his administration has provided the best working climate, allowed them independence and better welfare, which should embolden them to do their jobs well.

The new judges of the High Court are Asivosuo Maccarthy Oriye, Comfort Ifiekmotu-Awaji Adangor, Beauty Ihuoma Emmanuel-Okere, Omonigho Nwibani and Prince Chika Mini while those of the Customary Court of Appeal are Odiki Daniel-Kalio and Tetenwi Ngeli Eleraobari.