The crisis over the wards congresses of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State has continued to linger. Indeed, the crisis culminated into litigation to halt the congress in the state.
Meanwhile, the aggrieved parties have refuted the statement of the PDP State Publicity Secretary that the court injunction restraining the PDP from further congresses in the state was vacated by the High Court sitting in Irua.
Counsel to the plaintiffs, Chief F.O. Orbih SAN had in a letter signed by Dele Uche Igbinedion request the counsel to the defendants to advice his clients to desist from their publication/press statement (ES) that the High Court vacated the order of interim injunction restraining the Peoples Democratic Party from further conducting congresses.
Making reference to Suit no. HEK/9/2020 – Eruga Gallant C. and 2 others v. Peoples Democratic Party and 1 other – counsel to the plaintiff acknowledged the press release dated February 24, 2020, by Chris Osa-Nehikhare who he identified as the outgoing Publicity Secretary of PDP Edo State, saying that he falsely claimed first, that: “the injunction that halted our congresses a few weeks ago has been vacated”, and secondly, that “this morning in the Edo State High Court seating in Irua, one of the three litigants, Barrister Victor Idakhua, withdrew from the case as he announced he had come to discover that the averments he made in his first affidavit were not true. He then commended the process of the congress and gave it a pass mark…”
The plaintiffs protested that the false press statement was widely circulated on various social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp and others.
The counsel, therefore, argued: However, we believe that you are aware, the Chris Osa-Nehikhare’s comments in the release did not represent the events that transpired before the Honourable Court, for the following reasons:
“At no time during the proceedings on 24th February, 2020 at the Edo State High Court sitting at Irua (presided over by His Lordship, the Hon Justice J. Okeaya-Inneh) did the Court pronounce that it had vacated “the court injunction that halted the PDP congress a few weeks ago” or words to that effect.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Order made by the court was that our clients motion for interlocutory injunction to restrain PDP from recognizing or announcing or publishing the outcome of the disputed ward congresses was fixed for definite hearing on the 11th of March 2020.”
The counsel, therefore, declared: “in the event, all parties (including your client – the PDP) must maintain the status quo in order to preserve the inviolability of the res until the High Court determines the contention between the parties, not only on the motion for interlocutory injunction, but also on the vexed issues raised by clients in the entire law suit.”
He admonished: “by legal implication of the doctrine of lis pendens, your client, the PDP, must wait until our clients’ motion for interlocutory injunction has been heard on the 11th March and determined.
“Consequently, any action which your client takes in defiance of the pending motion for interlocutory injunction (including the purported conduct of any further congress(es), will not only amount to a nullity but will be contemptuous of the court.”
The plaintiffs also stated that counsel to the defendants is also aware that it is absolutely incorrect that Barrister Victor Idiakheca, the 2nd claimant in the suit, withdrew from the case because he “discovered that the averments he made in the affidavit were not true. He then commended the process of the congress and gave it a pass mark.”
He declared that at no time did Barrister Victor Idakheoa say any or all of the comments which Chris Osa-Nehikhare attributed to him.
Counsel to the plaintiffs, therefore, requested the counsel to the defendants to call his clients to order in terms of the false press release and to preserve the sanctity of the court and its orders.