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Contempt Proceedings: Court Strikes Out Application Against PDP Chairman, Others

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A Lagos High Court sitting in the Igbosere area of Lagos Island has struck out a contempt application filed against the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Uche Secondus, and other members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC).

Justice Taofikat Oyekan-Abdullahi struck out the application following a request by the applicants to withdraw it.

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The applicants in the suit are Dr Adegbola Dominic, for state chairman of the party; Elder John Babatunde Agbaje, Alhaji Fatai Ajisefinni, and Chief Taiwo Kuye, of the PDP’s Lagos State chapter.

While the defendants are Secondus, Senator Ben Obi, the PDP, Senator Biodun Olujimi, Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, Danladi Baidu Tijo, Ahmed M. Mukthar and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The applicants had alleged that Secondus and the others disobeyed the court’s order of last November 12, which restrained them from conducting a special election for vacant offices in the party’s Lagos chapter.

They are, therefore, seeking among other reliefs an order setting aside the election of officers for vacant offices in the party’s Lagos chapter.

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The applicants claim that the PDP conducted the “illegal” election, despite having foreknowledge of the case and pending application for interlocutory injunction. According to them, the special election committee was chaired by Senator Obi at the instance of Secondus.

Last year December, Justice Oyekan-Abdullahi, ordered the defendants to show cause why an order for committal should not be made against them for disobeying the court’s order.

Secondus, Obi and the other defendants appeared in court on the last adjourned date of, February 11, 2020, following which the judge adjourned till today for hearing of pending applications.

At today’s proceedings, Secondus was absent. Only the first claimant, Dr Dominic, and second defendant, Obi represented the parties.

Counsel to the applicants, Francis Akinlotan informed the judge of the claimants’ intention to abandon their contempt application.

“The second contemnor (Secondus) is not in court today. I don’t want to belabour the point.

“I want to withdraw my contempt application so that we can go to the merit of the case.”

But counsel to the defendants, Emmanuel Enoidem opposed him, on the ground, that Akinlotan had not given a valid reason for the withdrawal.

He said: “My lord, we are not objecting, but we shall ask for costs. I am asking for costs of N500,000 each for the first and second persons cited for contempt.”

Following Akinlotan’s refusal to concede costs, Justice Oyekan-Abdullahi held: “Since the learned counsel (Akinlotan) is the sole conducting officer of his case, he has graciously applied to the court to withdraw the contempt proceedings application.

“I do not think that costs will be appropriate in the circumstances.

“There is nothing more important in contempt proceedings than attendance, composure, and remorse in the face of the contemnors.

“While appreciating the learned counsel’s objection, I am of the view that money is not the price for contempt to compensate the contemnor, rather, his attendance of court proceedings to face his or her charge.

“This is however averted by the withdrawal and I hold the contemnor in high esteem for the remorse and attendance in court. No further respect must be shown by any court than this.

“Based on this reasoning, the contempt proceedings application is accordingly struck out and the substantive suit shall be taken forthwith. This is my ruling.” Justice Oyekan-Abdullahi held.

Further proceedings were adjourned till April 29.

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