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Court orders substituted service in suit seeking to compel PDP to hold NEC meeting

A Federal High Court, in Abuja has granted an order permitting a former governorship aspirant of the PDP in Ogun, Mr Segun Sowunmi to serve the National Chairman of the party, Mr Illiya Damagum court processes through substituted means

Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon gave the order on Thursday while ruling on an ex parte application filed by Sowunmi’s counsel, Mr Anderson Asemota to allow him serve the 2nd to 7th defendants in the suit processes via substituted means.

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Others to be served through substituted means are the National Secretary, Mr Samuel Anyanwu and the National Organising Secretary, Mr Umar Bature.

Also to be served through substituted means are the National Auditor, Mr Okechukwu Daniel the National Treasurer, Mr Ahmed Yayari and the National Youth Leader Mr Muhammed Kadade.

Asemota told the court that so far, he had been able to effect service on the PDP and the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) who are the 1st and 8th defendants.

At the resumed hearing of the matter, Asemota told the court that the application for substituted service became necessary when all efforts to serve the 2nd to 7th defendants personally were futile.

Justice Olajuwon granted the plaintiff’s request for an order of substituted service of court processes on the 2nd to 7th defendants and adjourned the matter until March 4 for hearing.

The News Agency of Nigeria, (NAN) reports that Sowunmi approached the court seeking an order directing the party leadership to hold a National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting for the purpose of presenting the activities of the party from the date of the last NEC meeting.

In the suit, marked, FHC/ABJ/CS/70/2024, the plaintiff is also asking the court for an order, directing the 1st to 7th defendants to call a NEC meeting of the party for the purpose of presenting the proposed guidelines and regulations governing the conduct of elections to the party officers at all levels.

He is further seeking an order of perpetual injunction restraining the 2nd to 8th defendants from by functioning or discharging the functions of their offices until they call for or cause to be called and held meeting of the PDP’s NEC in total fidelity and obeisance of the party’s constitution.

The plaintiff wants the court to declare that by virtue of the provisions of Article 31(2)(d), 4 and 5 of the PDP constitution (as amended in 2017), he, as spokesman of the party during the last election is obligated and/or entitled to file the suit to give effect to the aims and objectives of the PDP and to ensure that the provisions of Article 7 of the PDP constitution are observed and respected by members and national officers.

He also sought a declaration that under and by virtue of the provisions of Article 31 (2)(4) and (5) of the PDP constitution and Section 82(1) of the Electoral Act, 2022, the 1st to 7th defendants are obligated to hold quarterly or at the request of one-third of members of NEC of the PDP, the meeting of the NEC.

He said the meeting is where the 1st to 7th defendants shall be present quarterly financial reports or income and expenditure of the party to the members of the NEC.

“A declaration that, under and by virtue and the provisions of Article 31 (2)(4) and (5) of the PDP constitution and Section 82(1) of the Electoral Act, 2022, the 1st to 7th defendants are obligated to call for or cause to be called and held quarterly or at the request of the one-third of members of the NEC of the PDP at which the defendants shall present quarterly reports containing the activities of the PDP to the members of the NEC”.

He also wants the court to declare that the defendants are under obligation to call for PDP NEC meeting to present proposed guidelines and regulations governing the conduct of elections to the party offices at all levels and procedures of selecting party candidates for elective offices to the NEC members.

In an affidavit in support of the suit, the plaintiff averred that the last NEC meeting of the party was last convened by the sacked National Chairman of the party, Sen. Iyorchia Ayu on Sept. 8, 2022.

The NEC, he said is saddled with the responsibility of fixing and approving the date of the party’s national convention, which is the highest decision making organ of the party.

He said that all efforts to get the defendants to call for NEC meeting proved abortive as the, “defendants have woefully failed, refused and/or neglected to response to my entreaties viva voce and repeated demand for a NEC meeting as well as the letter written by my solicitors in that regard.

“That it is in the interest of justice to grant the claims or reliefs sought by the plaintiff in the originating summons as the defendants will not be prejudiced”, he said.

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