Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of a Federal High Court, Lagos, today, withdrew himself from further hearing of suit involving two factions of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ogun State.
The suit marked FHC/L/CS/1581/2018, filed by Chief Ajibola Oluyede which has Prince Segun Seriki, Chief Mrs Tuke Omotara, Hon. Nosiru Isiaka Giwa, Chief Remi Bakare, Apostle Abiodun Sanyaolu, Chief Kola Soriola and Chief Oyede Elijah, as plaintiffs.
While the defendants are: Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus, the PDP national chairman, Senator Ibrahim Tsauri, National Secretary of the party, Elder Yemi Akinwonmi, Sikirulai Ogundele, Bode Bankole, Waliu Oladipupo and Tunde Alekuwodo.
The plaintiffs in their originating summon urged the court for an injunction that the fifth defendant, elder Akinwonmi be replaced with the first plaintiff, as the party’s National Deputy Chairman.
They also asked the court order the national body of the party to only recognised Chief Adebayo Dayo led faction of the party as the authentic exco of the party in Ogun State.
But the defendants in their preliminary objection filed by their lawyers who includes, Emeka Etiaba (SAN), Emeka Okpoko (SAN), Edward Ayo-Adegbesan and Kayode Akinsola, urged the court to dismis the plaintiffs’ suit in its entity for been incompetent and abuse of court processes.
In urging that the suit be dismissed, the defendants said the plaintiffs failed to comply with the Provision contained in Section 60 of their party’s constitution.
However, at the hearing of the matter today, after Justice Aneke had ruled in favour of the plaintiffs to hear the matter, lawyers to the defendants, told the him to withdraw himself from the suit, haven ruled on the preliminary objection filed against the suit which has not been moved.
In his response, lawyer to the plaintiffs, Oluyede, urged the judge to discountenance the withdrawal of the judge from the matter as canvassed by the defendants’ lawyers.
Oluyede said: “I can’t sit down here as a senior member of the Bar and see the court been discreted.
“The politicians are at it again, and they are not worth fight for, we should avoid the politicians using us to fight ourselves at that court.
“I ask the court to discountenance the application particularly by Etiaba (SAN), asking my Lord to recuse himself of this matter. I plead with my Lord not to hold this against any of the parties. I urge the court to proceed with this matter”.
In his ruling, Justice Aneke while withdrawing from the matter ruled: “I have notice the defendants’ attitude on this matter since first day and the attitudes were appalling, the interest of the court is to be even handed but since the defendants have shown discomfort about my proceedings to the matter I hereby recuse myself.
“The case file shall be remitted to the CJ for reassignment”.
Prior to the sitting of the court on the matter, some protesters led by Comrade Segun Okeowo, Ogun State PDP Youth leader, have besieged the court calling on the Justice Aneke to withdraw from matter on the allegation of being bias.
The protesters who armed themselves with placards of different inscription said they don’t have confidence in getting justice before the judge on the matter.
In calling on the court’s Chief Justice to transfer matter to another Judge in a letter signed by Comrade Waliu Oladipupo and captioned: “In the matter of an impending miscarriage of justice, loss of confidence and a request for the reassignment of suit NO: FHC/L/CS/1581/2018, between Prince Segun Seriki & others VS INEC & others his Lordship Justice Aneke J, of Lagos division.
The letter reads in part: “I write on behalf of Ogun State PDP as the undersigned and the representative and/or the Chieftain of the 2nd defendant. Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as well as the 8th Defendant in the above captioned case pending before your learned brother, Hon. Justice N. Aneke of the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court.
“it is pertinent to state here that as the leading opposition party in Nigeria, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has witnessed untold persecution, harassments and wanton intimidation orchestrated by some expelled individuals marauding themselves as members of PDP led by Senator Buruji Kashamu.
“These are often perpetrated by obtaining Court Orders either interlocutory or Ex-parte, most often through the heinous means; abuse of court process a well as proceedings shrouded in secrecy. These handlers in spite of the directives by the Chief Justice of Nigeria on the Judges to be wary of thee antics are still having their ways.
“The latest is the above captioned matter, which the Claimants therein claimed to have caused to be served on the defendants and dubious proof of serviice was smuggled to the court’s file, but upon our discovery, we deployed our team of lawyers to appear before the trial on the 11th October, 2018.
“Surprisingly, in spite of the complaints by our lawyers of non service of the originating processes, the trial Judge, Justice N. Aneke, heckled down on our lawyers and stampeded them by allowing our lawyers only one working day to file their defense in matter that involved hundreds of pages of pleading and copious exhibits. This attitude of the trial Judge depicts a complete lack of fair hearing, sends wrong signals of partiality and obvious partisanship.
“It will interest your Lordship to learn that Justice Aneke expressed in open court his personal desire to hear the matter on Monday 15th October, 2018, and deliver Judgment with in three days thereafter with or without the defense or defendants.
“My Lord it is pertinent to mention that the sponsor/financier of the plaintiff in the above case, Senator Buruji Kashamu (A.K.A Esho Jinadu) called Elder Yemi Akinwonmi, the 5th defendant in the above case, while we were returning from Justice Aneke’s Court (Court 8), Ikoyi in his car to Abeokuta, to confess and boast his acclaimed compromise of the Hon. Justice N
Aneke of the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court and that direction of Justice to grant order against the defendants is already known.
“My Lord, its also curious why the matter which touches on the concern parties and res in Ogun state was taken to Lagos division instead of the Ogun State Division. If this strange forum shopping is marched against the belligerent and browbeating attitude of the trial Judge against our lawyers one is left in no doubt that the judge may have had a foreknowledge of the case before actual assignment.
“Accordingly, My Lord we do not have confidence in Justice Aneke to deliver a fair judgment if allowed to further hear the matter.
“It is against the backdrop above that we seek the following From your Lordship: Immediate reassignment of the above case/suit to another Judge of the Federal High Court.
“A directive to all the Judges of the Federal High Court that a“ matter connected to Ogun PDP including the instant matter should be transferred back to Ogun State to save the parties and witnesses avoidable inconveniences, travelling risks, costs and expenses.
“In conclusion, we count on Your Lordship’s prompt intervention and action to bring the situation under control”.