Ali Modu Sheriff, factional chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has called on the chief justice of Nigeria (CJN) to prevent “some judges from bringing anarchy to this country”.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday, Sheriff requested that the CJN look into orders of judges in the federal high court, Port-Harcourt, on the PDP national convention scheduled for Wednesday.
On Monday, Ibrahim Watila, a judge of the federal high court in Port Harcourt, ruled that the party’s national caretaker committee should proceed with the national convention in Port Harcourt as scheduled.
Watila also ordered that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies should monitor the convention.
Same Monday, Okon Abang, a justice of the federal high court, Abuja, granted an interim order suspending preparations and holding of the national convention in Port Harcourt, pending the determination of the application filed before him on July 20.
Sheriff expressed shock with the ruling from Port Harcourt, saying it came at a time when “all the judges in Nigeria were on annual vacation”.
He said that concerned Nigerians also frowned at the conversion of an exparte motion, with 14-day life span, to an interlocutory order on the next day by the Port Harcourt court.
“Most judiciary don’t want exparte motion because it denies justice to others. But, let’s accept that the judge decide to do that, the life span of the exparte motion is 14 days,” he said.
“This means you have time to serve the other people to respond. On that Thursday, the judge gave exparte motion; the next day he converted that exparte motion to interlocutory order.
“On Monday, he sat and heard the main case to give a ruling or judgement today (Tuesday) at 2 p.m. without allowing us as defendants to defend ourselves.
He alleged that when his faction’s lawyers went to court, “the judge authorised all the registry staff to run away”.
“The truth about it is that the whole thing is a hoax. First, the matter is already in Abuja.
“Ben Obi, who is also a party in Abuja, left the court because the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt has already been taken over by Gov. Wike, who believes that he has public money to do whatever he wants to do.
“These need urgent attention.
“We are calling on the chief judge of the nation to look into Port Harcourt division of the judiciary; otherwise, they will bring anarchy into this country.”
Sheriff, who described judges in the Supreme Court as “first class”, and those in the court of appeal as “second to none”, added that the problem of Nigeria was few judges in the federal high courts.
“Urgent attention needs to be taken by the chief judge of the federation, chief judge of the federal high court and the judicial service commission.
“Unless those kinds of people are removed completely, Nigeria will have problem.
“We are joining all other Nigerians to call on CJN and JSC to remove these bad elements in the judiciary, otherwise we will have problem.”
He added that his faction would also present a formal complaint to JSC.
“We are saying this because it is wrong; justice is for everybody, but a situation where judges are compromised is wrong,” he said.
Sheriff said that since an Abuja high court had stopped the convention in Port Harcourt, “whatever they do in the convention would be illegal and unacceptable”.
“I will not recognise any of these gatherings. I will pursue the rule of law until justice is done. This party is for Nigerians.”
He re-emphasised that he was ready to step down “if justice is done; if elections are conducted in Abuja and the people are allowed to choose who they want as leaders”.
“But, unless and until we do that, I have the right, I have been elected by the national executive council (NEC) for specific period of time.
“That period will not finish until 2018. But I am ready to go tomorrow. Let this party not be taken over by one person, we cannot allow it.”