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Published On: Tue, Jun 24th, 2014

Defection of 5 govs: PDP loses round one

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APC-vs-PDPBy Edoamaowo Udeme

Five governors who dumped the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) last year for the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday floored the ruling party in the first round of a case challenging the legality of their defection.

The governors who defected include those of Adamawa, Murtala Nyako;  Kwara, Abdulfatah Ahmed; Rivers, Rotimi Amaechi; Sokoto, Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko and Kano’s Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso.

The PDP instituted a legal action challenging the legality of the defection by the governors to the APC, and prayed the court to declare their seats vacant. The matter was however rejected by the court for the failure of the PDP to properly serve the originating summons and other court processes on the defendants.

Justice Gabriel Kolawole,  while ruling on the disputed mode of service of court summons on the governors adopted by PDP,  held that the party failed to follow the procedures allowed by law in   reaching the defendants since December 10 when the court action was instituted.

The court agreed with lawyers to the governors that they have not been served with court papers and as such the court cannot assume jurisdiction until the plaintiff (PDP) has done the needful and put its house in order on the effective service of court summon. The purported service of court process allegedly effected at No. 40 Blantyre Street, being the new office of the APC was declared illegal, invalid, defective and was dismissed by the court for not having the court endorsement.

Justice Kolawole held that the issue of service of originating summon by the plaintiff on the defendant was fundamental before any court can take further action against any defendant adding that the service done by PDP was not in conformity with the procedure of the court.

The judge adjourned the case sine die (indefinitely), pending the time the plaintiffs will comply with the law in the service of the originating summon on the  sacked governors while  asking PDP to formally write the court and attach the evidence of proper service of court processes on the defendants before any action could be taken against them.

The PDP had claimed that in line with the court order obtained on December 13, 2013, the originating summons was taken to No. 6, Bissau Street, Wuse Zone 6, but it discovered that the APC had vacated the office and relocated to No. 40, Blantyre Street, Wuse II, also in Abuja, as the party’s new office.

PDP claimed that the originating summons and other court papers were subsequently taken to the new office for onward delivery by the APC to the governors.

But Justice Kolawale agreed with the governors that the service at No. 40, Blantyre Street was invalid, ineffective and faulty because the order of the court for service did not tally with the address.

 The judge said that what the plaintiff (PDP) ought to have done was to return to the court to legally vary the order of service before it can be effective on No. 40, Blantyre Street, being the new APC national secretariat.

PDP, while instituting the case, purportedly served the court process on No. 6, Bissau Street, Wuse Zone 6, Abuja, the former office of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and  in a desperate move, the party moved the court summons to No. 40, Blantyre Street, Wuse II, Abuja, believed to be the national secretariat of the APC, but which could not be delivered to the defendants.

 In apparent reaction to the newspaper publications on the legal action, counsel to the governors stormed the court under protest challenging the purported service of court papers on the governors.

The governors insisted, in their different reactions, that the appropriate places to serve them with the court summons are their offices in their respective state capitals.

The governors further insisted that no legal action has been instituted against them until they have been properly served with court summons and other processes.

But PDP stood its ground that the governors were just evading court papers that have been delivered at the APC national secretariat, being their new political party.

Justice Kolawole said that the PDP would have done well if the service of the originating summons had  been served to  the affected states since such service can hardly be faulted in law. He therefore ordered PDP, represented by Alex Izinyon SAN, to do the needful before the case could be resuscitated by the court for adjudication.

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